Budget process needs student input; get involved, already

Spinnaker

Take heed, Osprey Nation! This is a call to action!

The Student Government Senate’s Budget and Allocations Committee has approved a proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-2011. We think the student body should take interest in this process, take a look at what’s being proposed and get involved.

This is your money, folks.

The proposed budget is riddled with cuts to many integral university agencies and campus organizations. This, in spite of SG receiving about $100,000 in additional funding as a result of a 35-cents-per-credit-hour increase in student Activity and Service fees, approved last year.

Before we highlight the programs and departments at risk of diminished funding and tell you why you should give a flip, we want to make something abundantly clear: This should be in no way construed as an assault on our esteemed student-leaders in SG.

The Spinnaker is well aware of the long hours of hard work that went into crafting this budget. We don’t hold any ill-will toward our student representatives, nor do we adhere to the sophomoric and simplistic notion that, even with an increase in SG’s revenue, cuts in some areas are completely avoidable.

We live in an era of tight budgets that is forcing universities across the state to raise tuition and fees just to keep the library lights on. We cannot expect everyone to be fully funded all the time, especially in a recession where state revenue is down.

However, it’s the Spinnaker’s contention that the budget in its current form is seriously flawed and in need of studious revision.

Again, this is not a slight against the B&A Committee or SG Treasurer Matt Samra. This is something that representatives throughout SG, including the aforementioned, have at least tacitly recognized and partially articulated.

The budget proposes punishing cuts to the Eco-Adventure program, the Women’s Center, the Interfaith Center, the International Center, Career Services, the Intercultural Center for PEACE and the Center for Student Media (which includes yours truly), among others.

Conversely, the budget proposes marked increases in line-item funding for events like the Osprey Tailgate Classic and Homecoming.

We get that SG wants to make these events mainstays at UNF. What we don’t get, though, is why SG is choosing this course of action when funding these events has traditionally been accomplished through dipping into the special requests fund.

SG’s reserve fund currently sits at about $1.5 million. We’re rather perplexed about why SG doesn’t choose to use this fund for these events.

They’re “special,” right? So why not make them special requests?

The Spinnaker has yet to hear a convincing argument against this line of thinking.

Look: If you’ve read this far, we applaud you. Few would say SG’s budget process is fun or entertaining. We’re even willing to bet it would be a stretch for B&A Committee members to say such a thing. But this morass of tedium is important, damn important, to the entire student body.

But what do you care?

We don’t want to go off on a tangent here, so we’ll save the “student apathy at UNF is lame” editorial for another time. Suffice it to say that if you enjoy the services and programs of any of the departments previously mentioned, you should do something about it.

The senate is holding a regular session where this budget will be debated March 1 at 6:30 p.m. Well, let’s rephrase that: We hope the meeting is irregular in that average

UNF students will show up in droves and get engaged. For once.

There’s still time for changes to be made, changes we think are essential. So get off your duff, and come to the
senate meeting.

If you’re respectful and ask politely, you could be the difference in changing their minds and changing this budget.