Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Lower enrollment, higher minimum wage leads SA to cut budgets by 10%

Student Association Vice President for Finance Ha Nguyen announced to Plattsburgh State treasurers Feb. 9 to anticipate cutting their clubs’ budgets by 10% for the next academic year.

The lower number of enrolled students at PSU, as well as the increase in minimum wage, contributed to the lower budget, Nguyen said. The projected number of overall students enrolled at PSU for fall 2020 is 4,933 and 4,447 for spring 2021, according to Bryan Hartman, vice president for enrollment and student success.

Nguyen announced the 10% decrease at club training for treasurers.

Russia Boles, treasurer for the Plattsburgh Association for Black Journalists, said the room took the news as a surprise.

“I feel like people were a little shocked, but they also weren’t trying to vocally express that,” Boles said.

Boles said PABJ will have to cut about $200 of its budget for next year. She said while her club has a larger budget than a lot of clubs on campus, the cut will be difficult to navigate when a club wants to start a new event or continue to fund a recurring event like it did in the past.

PABJ holds an event every fall called Brunch, Broadcast and Grind. The club brings a guest speaker in broadcasting or public relations to speak with members. Boles said the budget cut will make holding that event more difficult.

Clubs can ask for more money through Additional Allocations. The finance board reviews and votes on requests fewer than $100, while the SA Senate reviews and votes on requests more than $100.

For a request to be approved, either the Finance Board or the Senate must approve it by a two-thirds majority.

Nguyen is aware of clubs’ frustrations but said she doesn’t want them to believe the SA is being unfair with the cuts.

“We don’t pick on clubs,” Nguyen said. “It’s across every aspect, every facet that the SA is currently funding.”

That includes boards under the SA.

The cuts prioritized services students use often. Services like the shuttle, the Learning Center’s tutorship program and extended library hours will continue to operate normally.

“Those services,” Nguyen said,” students can’t live without them, and we can’t afford the quality of those services to go down.”

Those services will operate at an increased cost because of the rise in minimum wage, Nguyen said.

The SA hopes clubs will begin to collaborate with each other as their budgets see decreases.

Boles thinks collaboration between clubs is important but believes the SA pushes collaborations between clubs that aren’t always the best fit. On top of that, splitting revenue raises other concerns, she said.

Lower enrollment will affect the campus as a whole, but Cori Jackson, the director for Student Involvement, said the SA wants to avoid burdening students with the cost.

Clubs’ budgets, as well as other services the SA oversee, are funded by students through the mandatory SA fee. Students pay $97 per semester currently.

“I know the SA is really sensitive with not just trying to raise their fee to fill that gap. That doesn’t feel very fair to students either,” Jackson said, “so they’re trying to find ways to cut that aren’t going to feel so painful to students.”

The SA is looking to cut close to $100,000 with its budget changes, Jackson said.

“It’s on everyone. We’re all shouldering this cost together,” Nguyen said. “We’re all trying to work more effectively, more efficiently, more collaboratively.”

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