Broward Student Government in a budget crunch

The month of March is always hectic for FAU senators. This is the month in which most senators hold their budget hearings and cut the funding of clubs and agencies. Each group comes before the senate with a new budget proposal higher than their previous annual allotment, despite the fact that the senate must cut funding. Most recently, the Broward Student Government was asked to cut $55,000 and on one crazy weekend, our committee met in room 333 to decide who gets cut and who gets funded.

One strong determinant involved in this process is club activity. Clubs that spend more on trips and events are more likely to receive funding similar to what they ask for and clubs who are less active are likely to take large cuts.

After hearing proposals from Broward campus’s 25 agencies and 18 clubs, each individually, our committee studied the proposals line-by-line to determine what could be cut from the newly proposed budgets. After hours of discussion, our budget proposal was complete . . . or so we thought. Unlike the previous year, however, when we left $100,000 in contingency, our 15-hour meeting resulted in us having approximately $40,000 in contingency, $60,000 less from the previous year.

The committee met again two weeks later and managed to cut $30,000 more, but in the process, the Political and International Affairs Society (PIAS), which suffered the biggest hit among clubs, was docked $500, leaving it the third highest-funded club behind the American Institute of Architectural Students and the Black Student Union. They have been given $10,500 after the committee made severe cuts. PIAS earns only $10,000.

Governor Nick Wight vetoed the original budget proposal as a result of the huge cut PIAS had taken. PIAS, which made $23,000 in 2001 and $16,500 last year, has taken a bigger budget hit than any club in the last three years and now earns less than two clubs after earning more than them in the past.

“It’s part of a process and collaboration,” says Senator Andrew MacPhee. “The decision was made by the committee and the governor vetoed it. To some degree, clubs need to be paid based on performance. Student Government is there to ensure that the body is justified in the money being spent.”

They have seen a decline in activity as a result of graduation and leadership turnover. According to Senate Speaker Christina Cernansky, PIAS is earning less than clubs who have not been as active in past years.

“It is unfair to discipline clubs because of turnover in leadership,” says Cernansky. “(Broward Campus) only offers junior and senior classes, which causes high turnover in clubs.”

The ruling made by senate allotted PIAS the additional $500 to put them on an even keel with BSU and AIAS.

“If we’re setting a precedent,” says Wight, “We need to look at each club equally.”