SGA discusses use of last year’s rollover funds

SGA APPROPRIATIONS 2010 - Last year, the VCU SGA was given $604,828 from the total $1,992,835 of the Student Activity funds collected as a mandatory fee. Student organizations sought $1,277,732 in funding and the SGA awarded $465,168 to organizations between the fall and spring semesters.

Samra Khawaja
Contributing Writer
Commonwealth Times’ Twitter

SGA APPROPRIATIONS 2010 - Last year, the VCU SGA was given $604,828 from the total $1,992,835 of the Student Activity funds collected as a mandatory fee. Student organizations sought $1,277,732 in funding and the SGA awarded $465,168 to organizations between the fall and spring semesters.

Each year, VCU’s Student Government Association is given the responsibility to decide how best to use leftover money from students’ $45 Student Activity Fee.

This year, SGA estimated that they have about $150,000 in rollover funds from last year’s budget, or about $4.75 per student.

SGA president Asif Bhavnagri declined to comment on the committee’s spending plans regarding the rollover money, but Timothy Reed, director of university student commons and activities, said he knew of no immediate plans or legislation that would release funds to any specific project.

“Extra money … goes directly to something, which supports students,” Reed said. He also said rollover funds can be used for things like start-up grants for student organizations or for supplemental funds for already-existing organizations.

At their Sept. 19 weekly meeting, the SGA presented an Omnibus Spending Bill meant to decide what to do with the rollover funds. The bill is posted to Blackboard where SGA members can access it and post opinions about what the leftover money should be used for.

According to Reed, the SGA typically uses this procedure to facilitate decision-making.

“Senators should be talking to their student constituents,” Reed said.

Last year’s rollover money and funds sponsored events like the NCAA tournament trip, which covered the cost of transportation and hotel fees for 200 randomly chosen students who registered for a lottery.

“It should be beneficiary for everyone, not just a few,” VCU sophomore Natalie Tella said. “The money needs to be distributed equally.”

Reed said one way students can voice their opinions, express their concerns or show support is by attending a SGA open meeting.

“I feel like (the SGA) accepts our opinions but doesn’t acknowledge them,” Tella said. “You can listen to what we (students) say, but they don’t have to implement them.”

VCU sophomore Taylor Carmelo agreed with Tella.

“If they’re using our money, they should tell us where it’s going and how it’s benefitting us,” Carmelo said.

The SGA handles more than just student affairs; SGA handles approximately 34 percent of student activity fees. Each semester students pay $45 in activity fees which is included as a mandatory fee.

With a nearly 32,000-student body population, funds reach seven-digit figures, which are divided into four funding commissions: the SGA (more specifically, the Appropriations Committee), the Programming Commission that gets 40 percent of the funds, the Student Media Commission that gets 23 percent of funds and the Student Activity Advisory Committee that receives the last three percent.

“Each (commission) is designated a certain percentage in student activity fees to appropriate to their various groups,” Reed said.

This year, VCU has an approximate student body of 31,600, meaning the four commissions have approximately $1,422,000 available to them. This means the SGA has about $483,480 available for its use through their Appropriations Committee.

The SGA operates throughout the fiscal year based on the student activity fee money. With that money, the SGA also controls how much funding other student organizations receive. Reed said funds left over at the end of the year drop into the “roll-over fund central pool.”

The 2010-2011 Student Activity Fee Projections provided by the University Student Commons Association estimated that the SGA received about $604,828 last year.

According to the SGA’s Appropriations Committee’s 2010-2011 funding results, no student organization received more than 85 percent of the funds they requested.

Student organizations requested a total of approximately 1.3 million dollars, and the SGA only awarded $465,168, or 36 percent of the total requested amount of money.


Graphic by Hunter Nye

7 Comments

  1. The VCU SGA makes great effort to spend the 34% of the Activity Fee that they’re responsible for wisely. There are multiple mediums by which this is done. Supplemental funding, as mentioned above, is one. The Student Senators may present bills to tap into the Rollover Fund in order to use the money for certain initiatives. The Special Grants Committee also operates to give back the money to the students by reviewing grant proposals for projects which benefit students and the University. The 36% awarded is most likely due to improper funding requests lacking documentation and such and the Rollover will continue to build every year because student organizations continually do not follow the spending rules.

    I agree that there should be a more open process for students to choose how the money is spent in the future and that it is the SGA’s responsibility to provide that opportunity and make it known as well as is possible.

  2. Ah…nice to see the Commonwealth Times has reverted back to the finest birdcage liners. Lemme ask you a question Hunter…since you know SO much…have you ever actually LOOKED at the budget for all student organizations?? How do those organizations not benefit the students? Furthermore, where exactly do you think SGA GETS the ideas for any projects it funds?? Ummmmm maybe from the students…duh. Maybe if the CT communicated with the general student body as much as the SGA does…then MAYBE the CT wouldn’t continue to look like garbage. You should really fact check a bit more Hunter because at this point you look like you have a really good future with Fox News where facts aren’t necessary.

  3. As I was a member of last year’s SGA Appropriations Committee I can’t help but feel that I need to respond.

    First off what you said: the SGA had $604,828 total funds available of those funds $465,168 were awarded. What you fail to mention is that that awarded figure is referring only to the fund given out through the annual budgeting process. During that annual budgeting process we awarded EVERY PENNY THAT WAS AVAILABLE to our committee.

    The remaining $139,660 was spent on numerous other things including, but not limited to special grants for events that are open to ALL STUDENTS such as Qatar Day, supplemental funding (which has a budget of $60,000 if I remember correctly) for student organizations that missed the annual budget process, midnight breakfast, helping students go see our basketball team in order to making VCU a nationally known university, etc. Even just taking that $60,000 for supplemental funding leaves JUST $79,660 available for all those other things as well as operating expenses for the year. It is ridiculous for you to try and imply that funding was held back from student organizations.

  4. @Ms. Chandler: Please be aware the role of the press is to keep government and politicians transparent to the public. The purpose of the CT is not to be a PR vehicle for the SGA. Also read entire article before voicing false complaints of error.

  5. @Kadie — As stated in Article II Section 3 of the General Bylaws of the VCU SGA it is the job of the Chief Justice and the rest of the Executive Board to: “A) Approve the SGA budget for submission to the Appropriations Committee and B) Appoint the Compensation and Evaluation Committee and approve its recommendations for SGA pay for the following year.”

    Now considering that you were in fact Chief Justice of the Executive Board raises some flags, in my eyes at least. Is it not the responsibility of the SGA to answer questions from the student body? So Kadie, please enlighten us to some of the facts that this article is apparently lacking. Because after all, you should know best.

    http://vcusga.celect.org/uploads/files/0015/1279/mpc_sga_general_bylaws_2010-2011.pdf

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