The Center for Social Justice and the Georgetown Program Board saw their funding cut by $12,000 each in the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriations Committee’s student activities budget for fiscal year 2017.
Passed by the GUSA senate on Sunday, the budget also included increases for the club sports budget, the Media Board, the Georgetown University Lecture Fund and the Performing Arts Advisory Council.
The Fin/App committee allotted $998,202 from the Student Activities Fee for the 2017 fiscal year. Requests from the 14 committees and student groups totaled $1,607,311.
Fin/App Chair Betsy Johnson (COL ’16) said the decrease to the CSJ’s allocation comes in large part from Fin/App’s concern over the use of Student Activities Fee funds to financially support international travel scholarships. In its official budget report, Fin/App urged CSJ Advisory Board for Student Organizations to cut or reduce international travel scholarships, or find a different way to fund international ventures.
“In my opinion and the opinion of a lot of people on the committee, doing an alternative break program in a different country is not that much better of an experience than doing it here [in the U.S.],” Johnson said. “But obviously it is up to them how to spend their money.”
CSJ ABSO Chair Antara Joardar (SFS ’16) said that while the CSJ ABSO understands and appreciates the Fin/App Committee’s input, she stands by the importance of international travel scholarships.
“Given growing student demand for such experiences, we strongly believe that providing scholarships is important in giving students, regardless of financial situation, the opportunity to have an international service experience,” Joardar wrote in an e-mail to The Hoya.
The committee had originally cut $17,000 from GPB’s budget, but lessened the decrease after GPB filed an appeal to $12,000, or an 11.3 percent decrease from last year’s allocation.
Johnson said the Fin/App ommittee decreased the GPB allocation out of concern that funds from the student activities fee could be more effectively used elsewhere.
“We felt that other groups could spend the money better, that [GPB] was getting enough to do what their purpose is, that [GPB] was not our priority this year,” Johnson said.
GPB Chair Josh Kang (COL ’16) believes the funding cuts will have a noticeable impact on the group’s ability to hold events throughout the year. In particular, the group’s hiring of big-name artists for the annual Spring Concert could be harmed.
GPB has already been forced to delay the announcement of this year’s headliner Wiz Khalifa due to extended contract negotiations over payment, Kang said.
“If we take more cuts it’s going to become even harder to get artists to come to campus for concerts,” Kang said. “Artist costs are rising every year, but our budget is not rising to meet that demand.”
Kang said GPB was particularly frustrated that the Lecture Fund received a $3,000 increase in its allocation while GPB’s budget decreased.
“Lecture Fund caters to a specific type of audience, and GPB does that too, but our committees try to cater to as much of Georgetown as possible, so we try to have something for everybody,” Kang said “We feel that we could have done a lot with that money to cater to a wide audience.”
Johnson, however, maintained the committee’s decision to make cuts to GPB while increasing the Lecture Fund allocation.
“Overall the committee decided that having speakers from academia, speakers from media, from sports, from politics, wherever they come from, adds more to campus life than some of the things that GPB does,” Johnson said.
Club sports received a $33,200 increase in their annual allotment. In addition to funds to facilitate non-Kehoe Field practice space, much of the club sports increase comes from funding the club sports athletic trainer, a position created during fiscal year 2016.
This marks the first year the allocation for the club sports trainer will be contained within the club sports budget, and not be allocated as its own line item. Johnson said Fin/App hopes that in the future club sports will be able to fund a higher percentage of the club sports trainer salary through alternative fundraising, rather than though Fin/App.
The Performing Arts Advisory Council received a 9.3 percent increase to its budget, or just under $7,000. Much of the increase will allow PAAC to fund the refurbishment of Poulton Hall’s lighting and sound grid.
In the official budget report, Johnson stressed that certain allocation choices had to be made because of deferred maintenance on the part of the university.
Both the Kehoe Field closing and the PAAC’s funding of renovations to Poulton Hall, the committee said, are areas that should have received university funding but have instead been cast upon the student advisory boards.
“This has been an issue for several years in a row,” Johnson said. “The university should be paying for a lot of these things and it’s not. It’s getting pushed onto the Student Activities Fee.”
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