Ten of CU’s most high-profile and active boards, organizations and resource centers appealed to the student government on Thursday as they announced their 2012-2013 budget proposals.
During a four-hour legislative council meeting in the UMC, students and staff representing the GLBTQ Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center, Volunteer Resource Center, Student Legal Services, Off-Campus Housing, the Environmental Center, Student Outreach and Retention Center for Equity, the Distinguished Speaker’s Board, Radio 1190 and the Cultural Events Board appealed to executives and representatives, presenting their various needs and desires for funding.
The budgets will be fully determined next Thursday, March 15; this week’s council allowed the organizations to take the floor and announce what they would do with their funding if they faced a 3 percent cut in their overall budget, or if it remained the same as last year’s.
CUSG is the most financially powerful student government in the nation, overseeing a budget of approximately $37 million and allocating as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars to various campus organizations.
GLBTQ Resource Center
Several representatives expressed concern over potential cuts in certain areas of funding. A third of its overall funding comes from CUSG (the other two-thirds primarily comes from grants, endowments and student fees), and if it was to receive a 3 percent budget decrease, it would not be able to hire any additional paid staff members or keep their office open for longer hours.
Currently, there are two full-time paid staff members and four part-time paid students working for the resource center, and the amount of hours the office can be open has been dwindling; with more funding, the center hopes to hire more staff, as well as continue holding their average of almost 100 events per year.
Resource Center director Scarlet Bowen would not share the exact amount of their proposed budget but said she was happy with CUSG’s decision.
“We wanted to send the message that we are operating at maximum efficiency,” she said.
Women’s Resource Center
The Women’s Resource Center requested an enhancement of $4,000 to cover travels to nationwide conferences, bringing its CUSG-allocated budget to $6,845. Like the GLBTQ Resource Center, it receives funding from other sources.
“Our purpose is to create a campus environment where women will thrive,” program director Amanda Linsenmeyer said, adding that no cuts in their funding would allow them to continue providing services like free pregnancy tests, forums on identity and health and collaborations with other student centers and organizations.
Volunteer Resource Center
The several students that spoke on behalf of the Volunteer Resource Center made it clear that their No. 1 priority was funding for Alternative Breaks, a program that gives CU students the opportunity to travel to different states and countries and volunteer for programs that are based in these locations.
“Students grow from these experiences,” Jen Ross, the Resource Center director, said to the legislative council. “The investment is worth it. We can put more students through the program that can’t afford to study abroad.”
The specific request was $15,000, which would go to scholarships for the Alternative Breaks program. So far, the center has only been able to provide a total of $6,000 for students to participate.
Student Legal Services
Philip Bienvenu, one of the lawyers who represents students as a part of CU’s Legal Services team, told CUSG that the one absolute necessity when it came to funding was an undisclosed amount allowing the lawyers to travel to and attend the Public Defender’s Office Conference this fall in Denver.
“It’s the best update on Colorado criminal law,” Bienvenu said.
Legal Services provides students with low-cost consultations and, if need be, representation in court. The lawyers primarily deal with traffic offenses and MIPs, though Bienvenu said that he is experiencing a surprising increase in his caseload from drug possession charges, specifically marijuana, Adderall and cocaine.
Because of Legal Services’ self-generating income from consultations and court fees, Bienvenu was less demanding of CUSG funding, though he mentioned he would like to hire another full-time lawyer.
Were Off-Campus Housing to receive a 3 percent decrease in their overall budget, it would lose almost $9,000. Its current budget, from all sources of funding, stands at $294,480.
Director Susan Stafford spoke on behalf of the program.
“We want to build a reputation of giving back to the community,” she said, referring to the Hill cleanups she organizes with students. “I want to start [having students] flower planting and mural painting to benefit non-student and elderly residents.”
Stafford requested a budget enhancement for traveling, which was an aspect of the program that was cut by $2,444 last year. It affected the staff’s ability to represent CU at nationwide conferences.
“We are asked to go to conferences frequently,” she said. “I had to turn down one at UC Berkley. We want to associate with Berkley, with the Pac-12 and our peer institutions.”
Board members of the Environmental Center stressed to the council that the programs and initiatives they sponsor are efficient uses of funding that serve to save the university and its students money.
Recycling, renewable energy on campus and contracts with the RTD system that provide students with bus passes are just a few examples given by the board of ways that the E-Center benefits CU.
Its current budget is estimated at around $60,000, according to Natasha Goss, a 15-year-old junior chemistry major and student representative of the center.
“Our budget has been cut in the past, and it’s best to either restore these cuts, or not make any in the future,” she said.
The board requested three budget enhancements: $5,000 for putting on programs during freshman orientation that profile the center, $3,000 for outreach to the 841 students in family housing and $23,000 for their Energy Efficiency Fund, which provides renewable energy improvements for Wardenburg, the UMC and the Rec Center.
Student Outreach and Retention Center for Equality
With a current CUSG-allocated budget of $20,963, SORCE director Victor Hernandez said he was concerned that any cuts in funding would decrease the amount of volunteer participation in the program and therefore negatively affect the various forms of outreach it aims to provide to underrepresented students.
He asked for an enhancement of $4,000 so that SORCE could hold conferences on campus for the Boulder Valley School District and talk to groups of high school students about the importance of education and how the program would support them.
“The conferences are focused on different underrepresented communities,” Hernandez said. “The UMC and the C4C can be used as venues, so we’re providing resources to the BVSD, which brings money back to CU by [students] spending at the bookstore and being shown what CU offers.”
Distinguished Speaker’s Board
Board members were not happy upon learning about a potential 3 percent cut in their overall funding from CUSG. It would decrease their budget by $4,000, making it more difficult to negotiate for potential speakers to come to CU.
Director Liz Walsh reminded the council that the DSB helps CUSG plan and execute their events and forums.
“What we do gives CU respect and publicity,” she said.
The board requested a $5,000 enhancement, $2,500 of which would go to security for higher-profile speakers, with the other half providing honorariums, which are additional fees paid to the speakers other than what is originally negotiated.
KVCU general manager Mikey Goldenburg didn’t propose a budget at the request of the CUSG executives, because the student government recently passed a bill providing around $200,000 to the campus radio station.
“The money is for station operations,” Goldenburg said. “The bill will allow the station to put money into technology and PR, and help put students in professional paid positions and train them for that work.”
Cultural Events Board
The CEB was one of the only organizations to not ask for enhancements, requesting instead for its budget to remain the same as last year.
The mission of the board is to promote culturally relevant and educational programs to the student body; using the funding it receives from CUSG and other sources, the board funds events held by smaller student groups.
In the case of a 3 percent cut, the board members explained that they would have to decrease the amount of money they provide for student group events, and that alternate sources of funding were proving to be insufficient.
Next Thursday’s meeting will be far more in-depth, detailing the reasons why CUSG will choose to cut funding for some organizations and maintain – even increase – the budgets for others.
“I anticipate that some of these groups are not going to get fully funded,” Brittni Hernandez, a CUSG representative at large and 21-year-old senior ethnic studies major, said. “It will be for political reasons, because some people just won’t agree with the proposals, and it will be for efficiency reasons, because it might simply not be the best way to allocate that money.”
Now that it has heard the appeals, the student government will have a week to determine how hundreds of thousands of dollars will be divvied up amongst deserving campus organizations.
“We want to help these cost centers,” Hernandez said. “We seek to help them provide quality and sustainable programs for this university.”
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Annie Melton at Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org.
With contributions by Nora Keating and Don Tartaglione.
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