The Augustana Student Association (ASA) decreased the Union Board of Governors’ (UBG) budget from 45 percent to 35 percent of ASA’s annual budget after the senate voted 27-0-1 on Monday, Feb. 25.
In effect, UBG will lose approximately 20 percent of its annual budget. However, it will still remain the most funded organization on campus.
ASA’s annual budget, which is paid for through student activity fees, fluctuates from year to year, depending on enrollment numbers for that year. Based on recent ASA budget trends, UBG will lose approximately $22,000 from their annual budget of roughly $105,000.
Part of the $22,000 taken from UBG will now be redistributed towards funding student activity requests, which ASA Vice President Tyler Beck said has been difficult to fulfill in the past year.
“Our budget in the fall was really tight, so we weren’t able to fully fund a lot of the requests that ASA got, even though we would’ve liked to,” Beck said.
He also said groups who weren’t able to receive money from ASA would then reach out to UBG who would collaborate and help fund other student organization’s events.
For instance, in the past year, UBG helped fund the International Club’s annual talent show and Augiethon’s winter formal.
“The purpose of UBG isn’t to fund other groups,” Beck said. “That’s the purpose of ASA.”
Beck also said part of the $22,000 will raise Rec Services’ annual funding from a fixed $5,000 per semester to 7.5 percent of ASA’s annual budget, which would amount to roughly $8,500 per semester.
Rec Services’ increased budget reflects the fact that more students are attending its programs, such as the Augustana Outdoor Program, the women’s intramural rugby team and the Bike Share Program, which was recently put under Rec Service’s management.
For UBG the decreased budget will require a re-examining of how and where it spends its money, said UBG’s budget advisor Michelle Harvey.
“The question to come is how will this impact student experiences,” Harvey said. “My hope is that the random student who attends events won’t feel a difference. I think UBG’s leadership is going to need to be more creative with how they spend money. They’re going to need to put their thinking hats on and re-examine all the things that UBG has been doing and how we’ve been doing them.”
Meanwhile, UBG’s current head governors are concerned about the hasty nature of ASA’s decision.
“They got the information to make an informed decision at 5 p.m., and then at 9 p.m., they had a discussion about it,” said co-head governor Megan Lindely.
UGB generated enough money to develop a financial reserve of $60,000 with the 2013 appearance of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, co-governor Leah Blom said.
Blom said UBG lost $16,000 on the Big Event this year. Last year, it lost $8,000 on the event but the financial reserve covered the losses.
Harvey said that the goal of the Big Event has never been to break even.
“We’re not a concert planning venue, and I think most big events in the history of Augustana have lost or broken even,” Harvey said. “There was the perfect storm in 2013 when the stars aligned and we made money, but that’s not the norm. Blom said she is worried about the future of the Big Event.”
Blom said she is worried for the future of the Big Event.
“If we don’t have enough money in our reserve to get somebody that’s worth a Big Event, can we do a Big Event?” Blom asked.
Despite these problems, UBG has averaged an attendance of 140 students per event this year—the highest outcome in the four years the audit covered.
After receiving pushback from groups like ASA, UBG governors are exploring options under the restraint of Campus Life’s policy of having an event every Friday night.
“They’re just, like, really obsessed with doing their jobs well, and then that puts us in a position to help them do that even though that’s not necessarily what we see as the best option as students,” Blom said.
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