CCSG Wants YOU To Pay For Its Retreats

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Members of the Student Activity Fee Board met in 233 HUB yesterday afternoon to discuss a budget increase for the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments, the central student government for all of the branch campuses.

Most of the Student Activity Fee Board was in attendance, including CCSG President Ben Clark, UPUA President Courtney Lennartz, and UPUA Chairman Spencer Malloy. Several other CCSG representatives were on conference call from their respective campuses. It was the third meeting to discuss the CCSG budget within the past month and a half, yet little progress has been made in reaching a consensus. Still, a vote on the budget by the SAFB is scheduled to take place on January 25th.

The current CCSGG budgetary situation is a bit of a quandary. According to the Student Activity Fee handbook, CCSG should be receiving its funding from the various Commonwealth campuses. In practice, however, that policy is not enforced, and the government instead receives funding from the central administration — essentially the Office of Student Affairs and Vice President Damon Sims just writes a check.

CCSG has since proposed a budget where about $20,000 would come from the student activity fee pot at University Park — a constituency that CCSG has always maintained no jurisdiction over.

The three-pronged budget plan proposes funding from three different areas:

  • Central Administration
  • University Park student activity fee
  • Commonwealth campuses

Clark said that the budget proposal has been improved from past meetings, but there are still apparent problems with it. For example, there is an allocated budget of $11,000 dollars for CCSG retreats to happen throughout the year. On average, there are 20-30 members on the CCSG central staff every year, which means that the budget allocates approximately $500 per person for retreats.

This number raised a red flag for both Lennartz and Malloy, who are both apparent in their disapproval of the budget.

“The overall goal of retreats are to form relationship with Commonwealth student leaders and not UP student leaders,” said Lennartz of the $11,000 retreat allocation. “I find this very hard to justify. Why should we spend money for other retreats when we don’t even go on our own?”

Malloy was also concerned about the retreat allocation, as UPUA rarely goes on retreats, and instead opts to stay on campus because of student disapproval. “Whenever we spend money on retreats people say ‘Ah, there goes UPUA spending money on themselves again,’” remarked Malloy.

Malloy and Lennartz both raised excellent points. Why should University Park students contribute $11,000 dollars on retreats for students who don’t represent students at University Park? Even though the CCSG representatives present did not disagree with this point and asked which dollar amount would make the budget acceptable, neither Lennartz nor Malloy could come up with a figure.

“I don’t feel comfortable setting a dollar amount on this budget because fundamentally I don’t agree with it,” said Lennartz.

Despite the apparent disagreement between both parties, CCSG representatives were quick to point out that the budget increase for CCSG would have a minuscule impact on University Park students. Be that as it may, the idea of CCSG tapping into the University Park student activity fee pot for money should be an unsettling idea for many.

If you would like to voice your concerns over the proposed CCSG budget, be sure to stop by the next UPUA meeting Wednesday at 8 p.m. in 302 HUB.

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Greg is a senior majoring in energy engineering at Penn State.

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