The day of reckoning is over for CCSG and its controversial budget proposal. At this afternoon’s meeting, the Student Activity Fee Board voted (8-3-1) to approve a new budget for the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments, which includes the contested $14,800 from the student activity fee at University Park. The SAFB vote is non-binding, but it does hold significant weight in the office of Student Affairs.
Spencer Malloy (UPUA Chairman), Courtney Lennartz (UPUA President), and Mary Edgington (Senior Director of Union and Student Activities) all voted against the proposal, while GSA President Wanika Fisher abstained from voting. Every other board member voted yes. As of now, the budget only needs to be approved by Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims.
While the debate was tense throughout the meeting, it was quite clear from the start that only Malloy and Lennartz were outright opposed to the budget. Both Lennartz and Malloy had expressed their disapproval of the plan before, and were not comfortable with giving any University Park money to CCSG.
However, many CCSG representatives argued that this budget was as “fair” as the organization was going to get, and that a lot of effort was put into this final proposal.
The approval of this budget is a slap in the face to UPUA — which formally opposed the budget — and University Park students as a whole. Yes — the CCSG Central Staff is made up of University Park students, but the organization does not represent the interests of University Park. Even more troubling is the make up of the SAF board — of which 7 of the 12 voting members have a vested interest in the Commonwealth campuses.
If University Park students aren’t in control of their own student activity fee, what’s the point of having a board? It’s certainly unsettling knowing that CCSG has enough power to tap University Park student activity fee funds at its leisure, completely bypassing the opinion of the UPUA assembly. It’s a direct insult to UPUA and the student body at University Park
If there’s any good that comes out of this, it’s that people realize students should be given more control over their own student activity fee. Something like this can not happen again.
The budget must still be approved by Damon Sims, although historically, the Student Activity Fee Board vote has significant weight in the the Office of Student Affairs decision.
Here is CCSG’s line item justification for the $14,800 that University Park students will be paying:
- $3,500 for a fall retreat for the staff at University Park to form “positive relationships along with friendships.”
- $2,500 for a mid-year retreat — again only for the staff at University Park.
- $3,500 to attend a summer leadership conference to enhance the “leadership, citizenship and networking skills” of CCSG members.
- $800 for office supplies.
- $3,000 for a discretionary fund, which will be used for “central team building activities to help all of central staff build friendships and work effectively and efficiently together.”
- $1,500 to promote Capital Day
The budget request also includes $20,500 from the branch campus student activity fees and $11,650 from central administration.