How SGA is spending your student fees
The specifics on SGA’s budgeting practices
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 17, 2013 05:03
Every student attending CU Denver has a stake in the Student Government Association, the self-proclaimed voice of the student body at large.
With over 17,000 students currently paying tuition at UCD, the SGA collected a total of $266,876 from these students in funding for the 2012/13 school year. Using a portion of these funds, the SGA is sending 10 of its members to a three-day conference in Washington D.C.
Gordon Hamby, President of SGA, has been in office since fall 2012.
“We’re in a really good place right now. We’ve stuck to our goals—our overarching goal was community building ... I think we’ve really made a lot of major strides this year,” said Hamby.
SGA’s budget for operating expenses alone for the 2012/13 fiscal year, is $41,100. This funding comes entirely from student fees.
The determination of the amount of student fees and where they will be spent falls to the Student Fee Review Committee. SGA’s budget proposal is prepared by its Finance and Funding Board each year, and then presented before SFRC.
The SGA’s finance and funding chair who makes this presentation before SFRC, Alex Hubert, holds the Co-Chair position of SFRC.
SFRC, which determines the allocation of student fees to organizations like the Phoenix Center, Counseling Services, the Experiential Learning Center, and SGA, is comprised of Hubert, four SGA members, and two other students at large, who have been members of SGA’s Finance and Funding Board before.
Alex Hubert is not a voting member of SFRC, but runs its meetings and is able to vote in the case of a tie.
“The Finance Chair [of SGA] and the SFRC Co-Chair are the same person—that’s how it’s been traditionally,” said Hubert. “This year I had students at large and one SGA member write up a new fee plan that no longer requires the Finance Chair to also be the SFRC Co-Chair. Also, in the new fee plan we changed it so that the majority of SFRC members will be students at large and not SGA.”
Currently, the operating budget for SGA is dedicated to office supplies, professional development, and student events, which are going up in price due to their increase in frequency, and the new mascot.
This year, as requested by Hubert, 10 members of SGA—including Hubert—will be attending the Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. from March 15–18. The cost of attending LegCon is $7,858, or 19 percent of SGA’s current operating budget.
“Basically, LegCon’s an inside-track overview of the functioning of the federal government,” said Hamby, who won’t be attending LegCon himself. “The big key piece of it is the final night when there’s a large student rally out on the mall. It really connects students from all over the country,” said Hamby.
The rally takes place on National Student Lobby Day, in which the group “brings together federal legislators, executive officials, student participants, media figures, and more in a dynamic and fun event that garners plenty of press attention to amplify the student voice,” according to LegCon’s official description.
According to Hubert, members of the Senate, who deliberated the ethics and benefits of taking the trip, were selected to attend based upon their interest in going.
“I looked at our budget and saw that we had money to spend for professional development. I totally think that it is something we should spend money on, as leaders of the student body,” said Hubert.
Sending 10 SGA attendees to LegCon makes sense to Hubert. “I want diversity of representation at the conference. If we only send two people, then they’re only bringing back information related to what they care about,” he said.
Students of the various SGA Committees tend to agree with Hubert to a certain extent. “We had to send at least four people—one from each committee—to get the diversity of representation we wanted,” said Lubna Mazin, Vice Chair of the Events and Planning Committee who is attending LegCon. “But who was going to narrow it down to those four? … I do admit that I would have wished it were a smaller number.”
Despite the number of students, SGA believes that the trip will be positive for UCD.
“The benefit to the student body would be that the members that go to LegCon have to design and execute an appropriate student body event ... to disseminate the knowledge that they’ve gained. They really have to explain what they learned there,” said Hamby.
Lubna Mazin expressed that the structure and atmosphere of the post-LegCon trip is yet to be decided, but will most likely resemble the CU Denver Leadership Conference hosted by the Office of Student Life on Jan, 18.
One hundred and fifty-four students participated in this event, according to Ed Garton, Assistant Director of the Office of Student Life.
“I think that the trip has more of an indirect benefit for students at large,” said Hubert. “Since we’re elected by the student body to lead them alongside administration, the more leadership skills we have the better we can tackle the issues that students want us to.”
However, Hubert will be graduating in May 2013—two months after LegCon—and is not returning for another term.
Both Hamby and Hubert claim to be under budget on professional development, but their current “Revenue and Expenditures Summary” shows that only $3,739 remains of their $41, 100 budget. The registration cost of $2,050 has been paid.
For the 2012/13 fiscal year, SGA was among the seven offices that got recommended for an increase in funding by SFRC, out of 24 total offices. For 2013/14, when Hubert was on the committee as a voting member, SGA was one among 13 offices that got an increase, with approximately $115,000 in funding denied to other organizations.