BY AILIYAH ALIM – STAFF WRITER
With over 50 clubs and student organizations on campus and a total of $240,000 to fund these activities, it is no wonder that money quickly becomes tight in the SGA budget. In an email sent on the third of November 2017, the SGA Finance Committee listed expenses and the remaining money for the rest of the year. This money is requested in cases of special funding. Requests are brought forth every meeting, and, judging by a meeting I attended that November, many organizations leave feeling unsatisfied with the results – some facing extreme budget cuts.
The Cento was one such organization whose budget was severely slashed. Due to the budget cuts, the salaries of staff writers and editors were put in jeopardy. There are only two organizations on campus that receive money from SGA to give their staff payment: SGA and The Cento. When news of the budget cuts broke, many staff writers questioned if the SGA Executive Team would also be losing their salaries. Patrick Leahey, chair of the SGA Finance Committee, clarified SGA’s response in an interview.
When asked about the general budget cuts and possible organizations affected, Leahey stated that “providing funding for The Cento was unprecedented in the sense that no other SGA-funded-organization requests or receives salaries.”
There is an emerging question on campus regarding whether a person should be paid for a position for which they volunteer – referring to past payments for both SGA representatives and Cento writers. In the last two years, SGA has routinely voting against paying salaries to their executive members. However, in The Cento’s case, one cannot help but wonder if this is part of a nationwide phenomenon in which paid journalism is severely undervalued. The decline in paid memberships for our news is spurred by an emphasis on condensed and catchy headlines at the cost of integrous and in-depth journalism. At The Cento, we desire to accurately represent the student body in order to document the realities of life on campus. Many who write for the newspaper feel as though they deserve payment for their hard work.
Naturally, I questioned if there was an issue in the budget that led to last semester’s drastic cuts. I was not given an answer.
I decided to look to our inboxes and found that the total amount of money requested by student organizations outweighed the amount of money given to SGA to distribute among our organizations. This no doubt demonstrated a need for some necessary funding alterations. However, after allocations, SGA still held onto over $50,000. Yet The Cento’s budget was cut from $19,025.00 to $467.50.
I was privileged with the ability to attend an SGA meeting as a proxy this past November, and I was shocked then at how little SGA gave to the organizations who asked for special funding. These budget cuts to The Cento reflect the budget cuts of many other organizations on campus, which has led to increased animosity for SGA as organizations are unable to meet the goals they’ve set for themselves and create opportunities for their members. With any hope, transparency will sit at the forefront of the incoming SGA administration.