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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