Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Despite Cutbacks, SG Gets A Revamp

While FAU was forced to cut nearly $19 million from its budget over the past year, Student Government is starting off the semester with new carpeting, furniture and a paint job.

Last semester, the Boca Raton House of Representatives voted on a bill – titled the “Student Government Facelift” – that let them use $74,800 of student money on the makeover, which was finished up last week.

“I like it. [My office] looks more traditional with the blue carpet,” says Student Body President Abe Cohen, who wasn’t aware of the bill until after it passed because he was taking three classes during the condensed summer semester.

Every student pays $10 per credit hour into SG’s budget, which is then spent to serve those same students. And even though SG’s giving less money to many student clubs this year, SG claims to deserve some refurbishing.

“Due to the wise cutback in spending … the aforementioned work is well within reason to request in this budget year,” the bill says. It adds, “[SG] leaders deserve a professional, clean and neat set of offices.”

Should SG be spending money on itself right now?

SG leaders are quick to defend the bill. House Speaker James Tobin, one of its authors, says they had to spend the money before July 1 or it would leave their hands.

That deadline marks the end of the budget year, when any money left in SG’s accounts is automatically transferred to an emergency fund only administrators can touch.

So it was a “use it or lose it” situation. And the renovations were overdue and necessary anyway, according to Tobin.

“The only thing remodeled [in SG] during the seven years I’ve been here was paint,” he says. He pointed out that there was also visible mold underneath much of the carpeting, which may be a justifiable reason for the work, though it wasn’t mentioned in the bill.

“Yeah, the carpets weren’t sanitary,” Cohen says. “And this is an investment for down the road. We want to make this [Student Union] the living room of the university.”

Part of the money spent on renovations went to create more office space and relocate the Greek Life and Student Development and Activities offices, which also got paint and carpeting.

“It helps make things more centralized and cuts down on the walking and red tape students deal with,” Tobin says. “That will benefit students in the long run.”

The money for the renovations was handed over to the man who runs the building SG’s offices are in, Student Union Director Brian Keintz.

He managed the purchases and contracts for painting and carpeting, and says it’s something he’s been waiting for, too.

“I’ve been looking forward to some of these changes for three years,” Keintz says.

Some aspects of the job worked out better than planned: SG got a good deal on the carpeting, Keintz says, and the office chairs were purchased through Office Depot, where FAU gets a discounted rate.

But other things mentioned in the renovations bill haven’t been accomplished, like getting new signs for all the upstairs offices.

Keintz acknowledges there’s more work that needs doing. But any further renovations will require more money, and it’s not clear where that money will come from yet.

“There are a number of little details we [and SG] need to discuss,” he says. “We’ve been optimistic thinking to have everything finished by the day school starts.”

The old signs were painted over during some Student Union touch-ups in January, which were intended to make things look prettier for the Republican presidential candidates and the national media. Since then, there’s been no highly visible labeling of the offices.

While the decision to renovate its own offices with the rest of last year’s student money might not look politically savvy, a UP check on the money didn’t turn up anything suspicious.

But President Cohen didn’t return three phone calls in the beginning of August about the renovations. The UP finally caught up with him while he was moving into his new, more traditional office – with Tobin supplementing most of his answers with more defenses about the expenses.

“We gave up some of our own facilities for Greek Life,” Cohen says.

Right on top of him, Tobin adds, “And one-third of the carpeting was for Student Development and Activities.”

Whatever might be said of SG’s self-styled “facelift,” it’s paid for and done, the last mark of the ’07-’08 budget year. And Brian Keintz thinks it’s well worth it.

“Frankly, I think this is one of the best things we’ve done for students this year. It was a great opportunity.”

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