Student organizations’ budgets are being cut by 1.4 million

Due to decreased enrollment, organization budgets are being cut back

University Press

Gregory Cox and Patrick Martin

There may be more nights watching Netflix and playing video games for FAU students instead of attending activities around campus in the future. All Florida Atlantic student-run organizations that fall under the University Budget Appropriations Committee will have to cut their budgets by at least 15 percent due to increased services on campus.

The increase in services over the past seven years can be related to the spike in enrollment that occurred in 2008. During the recession, people couldn’t find jobs, therefore many decided to go back to school. As the bulk of these students have graduated, enrollment has started to decline. This decrease has meant less dollars coming into FAU to help keep these services running.

The UBAC met on Jan. 23 to review which student organizations and programs would be most affected by the impending budget cuts.

Corey King, vice president of Student Affairs, said he is more concerned about services like Night Owls, extended library times and the university’s newest endeavour, The Atlantic Shuttle — a trolley system for students that live on campus to take them to local grocery stores, beaches and even bars.

“Our dollars are getting tight here,” said King. “I’m more concerned about the services.”

“I don’t think you’ll see a decrease in services, you may see less food at events, and less promotional items, maybe less T-shirts,” said King. The cut to the Program Board alone is about $70,000.

All 45 accounts covered under the UBAC met with the committee to pitch their reasonings for their requested budget. Some accounts are going to feel the blow more than others because they don’t have auxiliary accounts, to dip into for emergency contingency situations like the larger accounts including recreation centers and the Student Union.

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Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor

This cut could affect the quality of nationally famous bands and singers that FAU will be able to hire for events such as the annual Bonfire in the fall and the Freakers Ball in the spring — two events that have become popular with the student body.

“For the most part, [FAU] has done a pretty good job of booking diverse acts,” said Grayson Gibson, a sophomore studying management and information systems and an aspiring musician, but his favorite concert was the 2014 Bonfire.  “The bands that played were still pretty relevant in their scene,” said Gibson.

In the spring semester of 2013, FAU was able to have up-and-coming rapper Kendrick Lamar perform at the annual Freakers Ball, compared to T-Pain, an R&B singer that some would argue is past his prime, who performed for FAU last semester.

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Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Boca Raton Campus Recreation will be feeling one of the biggest hits financially. “Facility cost and staffing both students and professionals are the most expensive portion of the Rec Center’s budget,” said Laura Johnson, director of campus recreation in an email. The rec center is also responsible for numerous activities like intramural sports, athletic clubs, classes such as spinning and yoga, and trips like sailing and hiking in various places around Florida and out of state.

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Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

The majority of this account covers the salaries of the two assistant directors, but much of the remaining budget goes to activities and programs. This account is used for events such as recruitment, Greek Week and anti-hazing week. Elaine Jahnsen, the assistant director of fraternity and sorority life refused to comment on what these cuts would specifically affect.

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Photo by Ryan Murphy | Business Manager

Photo by Ryan Murphy | Business Manager

This cut would directly impact the activities and programs such as the parade, free food events like the Ice Cream Social, and the caliber of performers FAU would be able to hire. Homecoming gives students the opportunity to come together as a university.

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Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Responsible for hosting events such as FAU Pride Fest, movie nights, bringing in various speakers and other get-togethers to promote community among this group, a cut to this account would mean a decrease in the number and quality of events. Representatives of the resource center refused to comment on what the budget cuts would directly affect.

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Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

A major part of the Student Union’s budget consists of expenses. Some of these expenses include maintenance and new equipment for the pool tables and ping-pong tables, but would also cut into events such as Wet your Whistle Wednesday, Free Food Fridays and other socials that are free to students.

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Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

“That’s nothing, Owl Radio needs more than $27,000 for expenses! We have to pay royalties and we have to pay for two conferences that change students’ lives,” said Gabby Alvarado, the station manager and news director for Owl Radio. “It cost almost $20,000 for a new automation system alone,” said Alvarado. The automation system is software that schedules what time each song and each commercial plays, which helps in the advertisement of outside companies and organizations.

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FAU’s on-campus television station will take a hit that could affect the amount of new equipment they are able to purchase. It could also affect the amount of coverage they are able to provide for out-of-state games.  

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Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor

Photo by Max Jackson | Photo Editor

The UP’s biggest expenditure is their salaries budget. It employs 25 students, the second-most of any of the UBAC accounts after Campus Recreation. Cutting this budget would result in fewer paid employees and could leave less money to pay printing costs for the magazine starting this summer.

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The activity and service fee is included in every student’s tuition per credit. Currently, the fee is $12.37, compared to the state average of $15.

King does not want to raise the fee under any circumstance and suggested to cut more from student-run organizations instead.

“We need to take that remaining dollars and funnel that back into the budget,” said King. He wants to recycle the money back into the UBAC budget, even if that penalizes certain accounts that did a good job managing their budgets

Cutting the budget by 15.5 percent isn’t the only solution being considered. Two solutions King proposed, along with the help of the current UBAC, were to start the UBAC in July and to create a university-wide treasurer. The only problem with the UBAC starting earlier is that no one will be on campus.

King wasn’t the only one to recommend a university-wide treasurer. Evan Harrow — the Boca Raton campus budget chair — expressed his concern for the lack of transparency within the UBAC.

“There is no university-wide treasurer, so no student can access the auxiliary accounts,” Harrow stated.

The students by law are entitled to see where their money is being spent.

“The Florida Legislature created Transparency Florida to provide the public with unprecedented access to state government spending information by posting Florida’s operating budget and associated expenditure records online,” as stated on Floridatransparency.com.

Although FAU hasn’t broken any of these laws, it is not easy to find this information. This student position of treasurer would be able to see into all accounts and ensure that the money allocated to each account is being spent responsibly.