Broward SG Funds Get Cut

After Student Government approved an across-the-board budget cut last month for all FAU campuses, Broward officials faced another looming problem leading up to the Legislative Elections on Sept. 18 and 19.

Broward clubs and organizations now face slashed funding and the House lacks manpower to pass legislation; out of a possible 13 members, the Broward House only has four representatives – which means it will be hard for the House to pass any legislation this year.

The prospect of SG not passing any legislation this semester that would improve the quality of campus life has some students questioning the merit of participating in the upcoming election.

“It’s not worth voting in the Legislative Election,” says English major Guillermo Bocanegra, who attends classes on the Davie campus. “It seems that the change is nonexistent; if there are student problems but nobody is changing them, it probably isn’t worth a student’s time.”

Bocanegra is a member of BCC-FAU Kenpo Club, an extramural club whose funding was also cut this school year, because the Council of Student Organizations (COSO) – the agency that oversees the allocation of budgets to clubs and organizations – fiscal year funding was cut roughly two-third from last years’ budget, Broward COSO Director Lutji Jules estimates.

According to Broward House Representative Valerie Jenkins, before the SG constitution was redrafted last spring, the responsibility for apportioning student club budgets belonged to House Representatives. That power, he says, was redistributed to COSO beginning the fall semester.

Since COSO’s budget reduction, Bocanegra says, “an SG official actually discouraged me from trying to apply for more funds for my club.”

In order for the House to run efficiently, Jenkins says a large number of Representatives are necessary. House Speaker Sergio Catano hopes a large number of applicants will run for Representative positions, but he isn’t confident.

“We don’t usually have a big turnout as far as candidates are concerned,” says Catano.

Jules, the COSO director, believes club members deserve year-round luxuries as out-of-state conventions, festivals, catered weekly meetings and volunteer beach cleanups – all of which are threatened not to happen by the depleted COSO budget.

“Students pay their Activity and Service fees [a $10 per credit hour charge allocated to the SG budget] every year,” Jules said. “They should expect something in return. None of us are happy.”

However, this doesn’t mean students are out of luck this semester, according to Broward Rep. Roberta Shepherd. She says SG can draw from what is called an “organization budget” to fund “individual student trips such as conference and state competitions.”

Broward’s budget plummeted from approximately $900,000 last school year to $404,128, said Broward governor Priscilla Vasquez.

Broward Student coordinator Freddie Frage says the biggest problem students complain about on campus is the campus budget; however, this amount is “set in stone” and can’t be appealed or redistributed, she said.

Augusto Veras, interdisciplinary studies senior who attends classes at Davie, describes the lack of legislation directed to students as “ridiculous.”

“[Broward Student Government] needs to find a way to use the budget in house and on campus for the students. There’s a lot of fees we pay that aren’t being used,” says Veras. “Voting is always worth your time … but if it makes a big statement in not voting I would probably not vote at all.”