With more funding and an overhauled service system, Serving and Learning Together (SALT) hopes to provide more service opportunities for students and organizations on campus.
During the Augustana Student Association’s (ASA) April 7 meeting, the senate passed an amendment to include SALT in ASA’s bylaws, which will add it to ASA’s list of large student organizations that receive fixed financial allocations, such as groups like the Union Board of Governors (UBG) and Viking Days.
According to the amendment, SALT will be allocated $2,000 at the beginning of the year directly from ASA’s budget. This is an increase from the maximum of $1,500 that other organizations can earn throughout the year from participating in service projects.
Additionally, the new designation means that SALT will no longer have to fill out service opportunity pre-forms, which other organizations have to fill out after every service project in order to receive funding.
Hunter Lipinksi, ASA treasurer and chair of the finance committee, said these changes came about from the time he’s spent on ASA’s Finance Committee for the past couple of years. He said that, since he’s seen SALT consistently max out the amount of money it can get from the service opportunity fund (SOF), it would be easier and more beneficial if the group could skip the process and also get more funding.
SALT President Jason Becker said that he was glad to work with ASA on the proposal and that he thinks the new logistical changes will allow SALT to better serve the Augustana community.
“It’s kind of ASA giving us the [permission] to bring service to the rest of the Augie community, to try to reach out to other clubs for collaboration [and] really to loosen the reins and enable us to do what our club is meant to do,” Becker said.
Becker also said the extra funding will allow for SALT to approach service in a new and larger way.
“Our goal for this next coming year is to figure out creative ways to use our entire budget in a way that would benefit the club and the community,” Becker said.
Lipinski initially introduced the amendment at the March 24 meeting, but it failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to pass. It was reintroduced at the April 7 meeting, where it passed 23-to-2 with one abstention.
During the discussion of the proposal at both meetings, senators brought up concerns they had with the idea.
Multiple senators noted that the proposal would allow SALT to continue choosing its own leadership. This differs from how leadership in the other large student organizations are chosen. In most other cases, ASA works with the organization to recommend students for leadership positions, which the senate then votes on.
According to Becker, SALT decided that choosing its own leadership was something that they didn’t want to lose.
“We wanted to keep our independence as a club and elect the people we felt are the most passionate about service,” Becker said.
“If it’s going to be where ASA appoints our leadership,” Becker said, “then it more turns into ‘ASA has an entertainment branch, ASA has a service branch.’”
Lipinski decided that, because SALT will receive a very small amount of ASA’s budget compared to organizations like UBG, which is allocated 35%, they would be allowed to keep their system of choosing their own leadership.
This inconsistency brought up concerns about whether or not other organizations would request to choose their own leadership in the future.
Senator Arden Koenecke, who served as Viking Days co-chair last fall, said she thinks SALT’s desire to choose their own leadership was valid and that there is merit in other organizations wanting to as well.
“Until you serve in that position, you don’t know how much it takes sometimes,” Koenecke said. “For SALT to want to have a hand in choosing that, I reflected on that using my experience on Viking Days, and I was like ‘that makes sense to me.’”
Another concern senators brought up were the financial effects of the decision. In an interview after the meeting, senator Andrew Struck said he wanted ASA’s Finance Committee to give an explanation of the costs of the proposal.
“I felt like I was forced to vote against adding SALT to the student association bylaws because the treasurer has a responsibility to do a cost-analysis evaluation on such an act,” Struck said.
Struck said multiple senators requested better explanation about the benefits of adding SALT to the bylaws but were only told that it would cost $500 dollars more.
Because of this confusion, Struck said he ultimately voted against the amendment.
“I didn’t feel as though they were giving us enough information to make a decision that wasn’t potentially costly,” Struck said.