Student Government faces challenging semester budget

BY ELIJAH SIMON, STAFF WRITER and LAUREN RAMSEYER, ASSISTANT EDITOR

As clubs across campus are planning for the coming semester, last week Student Government was given the task of budgeting funds for club activities.

Each club requested a certain funding from Student Government for diverse reasons, such as meetings, speaker stipends and supplies.

Student Government was given $50,000, one of the largest and most complicated budgets to manage in the history of Franciscan. In addition, clubs asked for more money than in recent history, which made Student Government’s job both challenging and, in some cases, controversial.

The initial budget proposition was made by the finance committee that was overseen by the executive branch. Initial reactions from the clubs that requested funds were not all satisfied. Some of the clubs whose budgets were cut more than expected were Students for Life, the Gadfly, Young Americans for Freedom and the Anscombe Society.

Students for Life was originally budgeted a little more than $2,000, which is about half of what was requested. The portions of Students for Life that were cut most severely were the abortion clinic outreach and the stipends for the president and vice-president of the club. These cuts, along with the elimination of money for literature and other supplies, were initially very poorly accepted by those in the club and by supporters of the club.

“They made some unprecedented cuts, but in the end … Student Government came to reasonable compromises,” said Annie Babcock, vice president of Students for Life. “We are going to have to work with it either way.”

Senior class senator, Joseph Antoniello, mentioned that there were already some differences of opinion on Students for Life and the manner of the club’s affiliation with the university.

“The budget allotted to Students for Life is one of great contention,” Antoniello said. “While there is amazing work done by this organization, some students and student senators wonder whether or not their classification as a Student Life organization is the most fitting.  Their work is primarily for the good of women outside of Franciscan, non-students, which some think might make them a better fit for missionary outreach.”

This aspect of the organization as well as the fact that Students for Life has requested more than any other club and is the only club in which the president and vice-president receive stipends, made the finance committee unsure if the entirety of the requested amount should be allotted. Concerns were stated that there was not very much continuity between clubs if only one club received stipends.

“I think in the end, there was a lot of varying personal openness about our stipends,” said Babcock. “I can understand why they didn’t understand that we get stipends. We are a prolife club. We are not our own entity. But in the end, our club is one of the most selfless clubs. … We work 22 hours a week doing various things for the club. Stipends are just our gift.”

However, Senator Aaron Basinger of the sophomore class stated that, since no other clubs had ever requested stipends before except Students for Life, there was no need to be concerned about continuity.

“This is only a continuity problem if other clubs come to ask for stipends,” Basinger said at the Nov. 17 meeting.

Another point brought to attention was that Student Government was allotted over $18,000 for the coming semester, about 50 percent of the budget for the 2015 Spring Semester and a larger sum than the past two years.

At the Nov. 19 meeting, the budget was reanalyzed and the terms were more acceptable to all parties concerned.

“Today’s budget was the largest that Student Government has ever passed for a spring semester,” Antoniello continued. “Though 55 percent of the budget belongs to Student Government, which to my dismay, was the only student organization that did not receive any cuts, the Students for Life budget was raised to an acceptable amount for Student Government to come to an agreeable consensus, and I hope Students for Life is happy with what the organization has received.”

In the end, Students for Life abortion clinic outreach was restored to its entirety. The stipends that were requested were not able to be given this semester due to constitutional restraints, but Student Government was willing to consider a bill next semester to cover this expense as well.

Babcock said she was very grateful that they restored the money for the abortion clinic outreach because that is the most important.

“I don’t want Student Government to be painted as this big, bad, bureaucratic institution on campus because they are not,” Babcock said. “They are students just like us and doing their jobs. It was just circumstances.”

Senator Antoniello commented on the passing of the final budget. “I laud the work of my fellow senators and their passion for the organizations they represent as well as their commitment to the mission of Student Government,” he said.

During the Nov. 19 meeting, another historical event occurred for Student Government, namely, one of the senators Stephen Shaw was expelled from the chamber.

“On Senator Shaw’s expulsion, I must admit that I am torn,” said Antoniello. “I was glad to see the Senate taking such concise and important action, so that we could move through this process at a faster rate, though I was admittedly disheartened that the senator was not available to be a part of the rest of the discussion, one in which I believe every senator should have taken part.”

According to Antoniello, David Schmiesing, vice president of Student Life, said that it was the first time in his 10 years as adviser of Student Government that a senator has been expelled from the chamber.

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