The controversy over the Student Fee Committee’s final budget allocation took another turn last week when President Daniel O. Bernstine refused to review it. In a letter sent last Friday to SFC Chair Tracy Earll, Berstine said he would not review the budget because the Student Senate had not approved the final allocation, stating, “… it appears the submission to me is premature.”
The letter from Bernstine came after the Student Senate voted 11-9-1 last Wednesday to fail the SFC budget due to concerns over OSPIRG’s final allocation. A majority of senators felt OSPIRG was under-funded.
According to Earll, under SFC guidelines, the final allocation cannot be changed at this point. Compounding the issue is the fact that the Student Senate does not have any constitutional power to change the SFC’s final allocation, just the power to pass or veto. The situation leaves few viable options for the senate and the SFC.
A drastic option would be to zero-fund all student groups due to lack of a budget. “We could have no student fees if we fail to get our act together,” said Earll about budgeting options.
Another option, outlined by Earll, includes using last year’s budget to fund student groups next year. Using such a method would de-fund seven new student groups and drain $500,000 from budgeted program increases.
The Student Senate can still pass the previously submitted budget and is expected to make another vote on the SFC’s final budget allocation today. Regardless of the outcome, President Bernstine just wants to ensure the integrity of the student process. “I stand ready to satisfy my obligations once the SFC budget is passed by the Student Senate,” he said.