t’s cutting season around Florida Atlantic University. For the second year in a row, student organizations’ budgets are on the chopping block, facing more cutbacks than the year before.
But unlike last year, where the cuts were split relatively equally over 40 student organizations, some programs are feeling more pain than others.
The entire budget — made up of the revenue of the activity and service fees students pay as part of their tuition — is expected to be less next year because the university is anticipating a decrease in enrollment.
As fewer students enroll, less money is made from the fee used to pay for student employment, advisers’ salaries, professional staff and expenses. This gives the University Budget Appropriations Committee the challenge of tightening student organizations’ budgets.
The total requested budget made by university-wide programs was about $9.1 million. The problem: The UBAC only has $8.6 million to give, meaning they had to cut $500,000 of the current requests.
“We are going to need to be more efficient as a whole in order to get more done with less,” Husam T-Ahmed said, the Boca Raton treasurer and voting member of the UBAC.
More than a quarter of the $500,000 proposed cuts came from four student organizations’ paid positions.
“I was blindsided,” Owl TV station manager Pierce Sargeant said of the proposed cut to his budget. “We’ll probably have to merge a lot of jobs and overwork probably five people.”
Seven of the 13 jobs that Owl TV currently has will be cut with the proposed change in funding.
The station took a 51 percent cut from $125,000 to $62,000, which cut about $31,238 in student jobs. The committee justified the cuts by saying the station only has 370 subscribers on YouTube and doesn’t reach the vast majority of the student body.
However, Sargeant explained that most of their traffic comes from social media, where they have 2,100 likes on Facebook, and 2,700 followers on Twitter.
The Graduate & Professional Student Association lost six of their paid positions, from $71,880 down to $16,000. The program also provides partial tuition reimbursements to their graduate student employees.
Felix Hartmann, the vice chair of the UBAC and chief financial officer of Student Governement, said “They’d still get free college, stipends and they can put it on their resume,” during the deliberation meeting on Jan. 28. The UBAC justified the cuts, saying the organization spent too much on food.
The association hosts graduation dinners, award ceremonies, workshops for FAU graduate students including offering grants for travel and research.
The director of GPSA, Daria Prause, pursuing her Master of Business Administration, struggled to see the cut’s justification.
“We have families, we have children, we have mortgages to pay and we are pursuing advanced degrees,” explained Prause. “That is why we are expecting the pay rate that is marketable.”
Stefon Napier, the administrative coordinator for GPSA, felt the same.
“Most people aren’t going to agree to work for $8.50 when they’re working for an advanced degree or they’ve already had prior experience,” Napier said.
Owl Radio which streams online and in the Breezeway lost three positions when it was handed a 17 percent cut, which surprised Sargeant.
“I was shocked to see [Owl Radio get cut], because radio is already a skeletal crew as it is.”
The University Press also lost 11 of its 15 paid positions with the 54 percent proposed cut.
Despite the cuts to paid positions, the UBAC members initially seemed supportive of preserving student employment.
“We expand $400,000 to programs in Student Media, but we also spent about the same on salaries,” Hartmann said, criticizing the amount going to non-student adults. “I’d rather see the money going to student positions.”
He also questioned the number of full-time positions in the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and the number of people advising Student Government.
None of the accounts questioned for having too many advisers took a cut to the salaries and benefits expense line. The only cut to salaries and benefits made by the UBAC was $42,000 to the Student Involvement program on the Davie campus.
This has Napier, also a former member of the UBAC, question recent changes to the system.
“I think we had a good 15 [members] if I’m not mistaken?” Napier recalled. “I think they made it smaller to try and save on time, because it’s a long process.”
This year’s deliberation meeting to allocate the entire budget took eight hours, running until 1:30 a.m., but only had four voting members present. In the past, the same meeting ran 14 hours. Last years group was more dillegent, according to Napier.
“One of the things we did was we went to every office, including this one, and we asked questions,” he said. “It was interesting to see how this UBAC was a lot smaller [and] didn’t have those same conversations as the last UBAC.”
Unlike last year — when each organization had to present, only a select few were called in to be asked additional questions about their programs, but the time allowed wasn’t enough to paint the whole picture explained Prause with GPSA.
“When we have the presentation at the UBAC, it’s only five minutes, we cannot show everything we do. We can’t explain what is going on, we can not show the massiveness of travel we are processing.”
Last year’s UBAC was faced with an even bigger challenge when it had to mandate a 15 percent cut across all organizations.
The change to the structure in the UBAC came over the summer.
The student senate removed some of its legislators and took the House of Representatives out of the UBAC. They were replaced with the chief financial officer, three campus treasurers and three campus budget chairs.
The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Student Body President Kathryn Edmunds, Vice President of Student Affairs Corey King and University President John Kelly.
Gregory Cox is the managing editor of the University Press. If you would like to contact him regarding this or other articles, email him at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter.