$1.3 million slashed from UCF SGA Senate budget
This year, the 2014-15 Activity and Service Fee Budget — which funds student organizations, homecoming, the Recreation and Wellness Center and more — saw a decrease of nearly $1.3 million.
"I think all the agencies and departments that are affected by the Activity and Service Fee funds did a fairly comprehensive job of reviewing their areas and determining places where they could cut some of their budget money to reflect the shortfall that we received," said Richard Phillips, director of the Activity & Service Fee department.
The budget is funded by students' Activity & Service Fee, which saw an 88-cent increase this year. Each student pays this fee per credit hour.
"Without the raise to the A&S fee, the budget would have been somewhere around $16.2 million," said SGA President Weston Bayes.
The budget saw a 6.9 percent decrease to $17.5 million. In order to adjust to the cuts, agencies and departments were told to cut their budgets by 7 percent. Agencies and departments then presented to the A&SF budget committee what they did last year, what they plan on doing and why they need funding.
"We don't just want to spend money to spend money. We just want to make sure that if we spend money it's going to be impactful and direct," Bayes said.
Cuts affected Late Knights, the executive branch of SGA and more.
Late Knights saw a decrease of $164,290 from last year's budget, an 82.7 percent decrease. Late Knights is intended to be an alcohol alternative for students and hosts various events throughout the year. When it presented its budget before the A&SF budget committee, it wanted to revamp a lot of its programming.
The committee decided that Late Knights should look at what it was already doing and the attendance of its programs. The committee also thought that Late Knights could work more with other programs that already exist at UCF.
The executive branch of SGA saw decreases to its president's initiative program and long-term contracts. The president's initiative program is used to the president's will and funds things such as last year's SGA President Melissa Westbrook's Big Belly Recycling System. It saw a 50 percent decrease.
The long-term contract area saw a $28,000 decrease. The cut affected the readership program that supplied free issues of the New York Times on campus and the summer KnightLYNX route.
Despite the decrease, some departments saw increases in their budget. Both Knight-Thon and the Multicultural Student Center received budget increases.
Knight-Thon saw a $22,541 increase, which will go toward moving the main event of Knight-Thon from The Venue to the CFE Arena.
The Multicultural Student Center saw an increase of $110,651 in order to fund LGBTQ+ programming that was originally a part of Pride Coalition.
Starting in October, a new A&SF budget committee will begin meeting to prepare for the 2015-16 budget. Agencies and departments will present their information before the committee in December.
"I highly encourage students to actually get involved in the budget process," said SGA comptroller Drew Ulloa. "The meetings are open [and] we tried to get a large enough room so that students can come."
Students should be conscious of the budget because it is solely funded by their tuition, Phillips said.
"I believe most every student on campus can be touched by an activity or an organization or department that is funded through the Activity and Service Fee," Phillips said. "It is something that students should be aware of since it's their money they've entrusted their Student Government Association to monitor and to utilize it in a manner that benefits the majority of the student body."