By Adeeb Chowdhury
The Student Association Senate meeting Oct. 29 saw significant revisions of the SA budget for the upcoming spring semester. Most of these adjustments stemmed from the need to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, in particular the decline in club activity and the strain on students’ personal finances.
Newly SA treasurer Saugat Gautam presented the revised budget, projecting a spring expenditure of $402,864 — a drop from the fall expenditure of $426,564.
Although SA spending for the spring semester is usually higher than the fall, the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic rendered this year an exception.
“We’ve seen club activities and campus events being decreased due to COVID,” Gautam explained. “That reduces SA spending by quite a lot.”
Part of the budget cuts came from the newly approved Student Bill 19, which lowers the SA fee to $55 for the spring semester. The spring 2020 budget, which preceded the coronavirus outbreak, had a semester charge of $105, which was then reduced to $85 later in the year to address student financial strains resulting from the pandemic.
This fee was brought down on Thursday yet again and reduced the SA income by about $100,000, according to Treasurer Gautam.
During the meeting, Adviser Cori Jackson recommended the SA make sure the student body understands the nature and reasoning behind this fee decrease and what it means for the future. She emphasized that students should be aware that services such as the shuttle and Learning Center will not be affected. In addition, students should not expect this decrease will be permanent, as it will likely be reinstated to the original amount once the situation improves.
Earlier this semester, Student Bill 11 created the Ad-hoc Additional Allocations Committee, which reviewed requests by clubs to obtain additional funds. However, Thursday’s meeting saw the approval of Student Bill 20, which repealed Bill 11 and effectively dismantled the committee.
“The Additional Allocation Committee’s roles will be taken over by the Finance Board,” Guatam said. “I’d like to assure all clubs and organizations that if they come up with any events for the spring semester and think they need more funds to get it done, then they can petition the Finance Board for additional allocations, and we will definitely consider their request.”
The meeting also resolved the approval to recognize and acknowledge Transgender Day of Remembrance every Nov. 20. This commemoration was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor her friend Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts, and remember those of the transgender community who were lost to violence that year. The resolution outlines the SA’s commitment to “promoting, collaborating with and supporting events that spread awareness and recognition of the transgender community.”
Executive Vice President Jennifer Stanton presented the Green Fee, an optional $3 fee that students have the ability to select each semester. This fee will be used for a grant to help make the campus more sustainable and environment-friendly, in a process overseen by the Campus Committee for Environmental Responsibility. Previous accomplishments made possible by the Green Fee include on-campus bike fixing stations, funding compost coalition workers, and supplies for the campus garden.
Senators also approved Lucy Allen as a voting member of the Legislative Review Board, thereby officially rendering the board active. Stanton voiced gratitude and excitement at the approval, citing Allen’s enthusiasm and previous contributions.