Monroe Park SGA spent annual budget in Oct., passed new spending bill for spring semester

Chris Suarez
Staff Writer

The Monroe Park Campus SGA dried up its allocated annual budget of $227,000 sooner than expected in October this year, and subsequently passed a $200,000 spending bill on Nov. 3 to continue functioning normally through the spring semester.

According to SGA appropriations committee chair Vivek Patel, the additional money from the spending bill will be used during the last weeks of 2014 to resume funding of student organizations, and adequately support activities in the spring 2015 semester.

Patel said the $200,000 will come from a slush fund of slightly more than $300,000. The fund is comprised of approved finances not utilized by student organizations each semester.

Patel and Monroe Park SGA president Brandon Day said the shortfall reflects improved relations and communication with student organizations. According to SGA bylaws, student organizations are able to procure up to $17,500 each semester for operational finances, travel and complex events.

“Appropriations has done a fantastic job of seeing every student organization,” Day said during an interview last month.

Day added that the MPC SGA has worked closely this year with the medical campus and graduate student SGA to have consistent appropriations regulation.

According to Patel, student organizations are responsible for approaching the SGA approximately five months prior to when they will need to access their requested funds.

Once an organization has made a funding submission, representatives of the student organization present their funding request at an appropriations committee meeting. The committee then decides whether to approve the request, pending an absence of transgressions against SGA bylaws.

When approved, the student organization will again visit Student Commons and Activities four or five weeks before their event. A VCU finance specialist from the Student Commons and Activities then purchases items or pays contractors for the event on behalf of the student organization.

Each year, Student Commons and Activities acquires nearly $2 million from students  through the mandatory $45 activity fee included in student tuition and fees. This accumulated budget is then divided into four funding commissions: the SGA Appropriations Committee, the Programming Commission, the Student Media Commission and the Student Activity Advisory Committee.

According to official projections for this school year, the Programming Commission received $760,452.00, SGA appropriations received $646,384.20, the Student Media Center receieved $437,259.90 and the Student Activities Advisory received $57,033.90.

Included within SGA appropriations funding are further allocations for the Sports Club Council and Fraternity/Sorority Life Council who each receive 15 percent of the SGA’s budget, and the Graduate Student Association which receives 10 percent. The overall allocation also includes the SGA’s operational budget and salaries for specific members in leadership positions of the SGA.

“My experience here and elsewhere, but particularly here, those students take their responsibilities seriously,” said Dean of Student Affairs and SGA faculty advisor Reuban Rodriguez.

Questions were raised earlier this semester regarding SGA members having conflicts of interest representing multiple student organizations. Patel said he adopted a non-official policy earlier this year to avoid any ethical dilemmas.

When voting on funding approval for student organizations, Patel said he asks committee members to disclose what other organizations they may be part of and to abstain when funding bills for their organizations come to committee.

“They look at the student body as a whole, not the membership of organization they adhere to,” Rodriguez said. “There’s over 60 students involved making these decisions. It’d be difficult for any particular organization to exert undue influence.”

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