Increases to several accounts were agreed upon by the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) during their annual BFC weekend from March 29 to 30.
In light of recent concerns with the Conference and General Programming Accounts, Student Association (SA) Vice President of Finance Youssouf Kouyo said both have been given an increase of $5,000 and $2,806, respectively. He also said that stipulations have been added in regards to conference funding requests.
The new stipulations ask for more clarity from students looking to attend conferences. Kouyo said a problem the Conference Account runs into, and a factor in why the account depletes so quickly, is that students will attend a job fair or networking event that doesn’t fall under what SA considers as a conference.
“We’ve specified what a conference can be and defined it,” Kouyo said. “It really depends on how you interpret a conference. Now, sometimes an event can be more of a networking opportunity than a conference but you still get money as if it were a conference. We’re trying to eliminate that so it restricts people from using conference money for their personal benefit.”
BFC reduced the money from SA’s Research Grant Account from $12,000 to $8,000, while also reducing the Rainbow Coalition Account from $5,000 to $2,000 in order to increase both the Conference and General Programming accounts.
BFC Vice Chair and third-year business management major Rosemary Owuo said BFC’s desire for conferences is to benefit both individual students and the whole school, so the stipulations and increase in budget were necessary.
“We [BFC] are really big on conferences, so we want to encourage those as much as possible,” Owuo said. “It’s a chance for students to better themselves and a chance for them to represent New Paltz.”
Discussions from Senate about the potential $5 Student Activity Fee increase carried over into the weekend. Kouyo said with the possible fee increase, the committee took into consideration what the extra $68,000 would be allocated to.
Should the Activity Fee increase pass in May, money will be given to some of the service accounts. Though definitive amounts have not yet been determined, Kouyo said some of that money will be given to Transit and Childcare services. A certain amount of money will also be used to create an account that would be accessible to non-SA groups.
Senator and BFC member James Auer said monetary allocation to clubs and services on campus is based on need. Regardless of the potential increase in money from the Student Activity Fee, Auer said both the Childcare Center and the Loop Transit bus were given more money for this reason.
Auer said some factors taken into account when discussing need-basis line items in budgets are health and safety issues. He said certain club sports need specific equipment, and that BFC takes on the responsibility of providing the best and most practical health and safety options for clubs.
“We spent about 30 to 45 minutes discussing whether or not we should provide the money needed for club hockey to get mouth guards for when they play,” he said. “In the end we choose to provide the funds for things like that because we need to look out for people’s safety.”
Kouyo said once the budget is released to club presidents, they will be allowed to make an appeal for more money, if needed, by Monday, April 14. All interested in appeals must contact Kouyo before that date.