New budget approval structure discussed for ASASUD

Sen. Michelle Lauer, of the Walter Cronkite School, discussed a proposal to change ASASUD's funding request approval process at a Senate meeting on Friday. Two weeks ago ASASUD approved a $46,000 budget for Downtown campus recreation. (Evie Carpenter/DD)

After ASASUD approved a $46,000 budget for Downtown campus recreation at a meeting two weeks ago, questions have been raised about the student government’s ability to manage money and appease all the student organizations that need it.

At Friday’s Senate meeting, ASASUD members discussed a proposal for changes to its current budget approval system to try and answer those questions. The discussed changes are designed to make the budget approval process more efficient by giving the Budget Allocations Committee, whose current purpose is to ensure groups fill out the proper funding request forms, the power to approve or deny funding requests under a certain amount equal among student organizations. This semester that amount would have been $1,380.

These changes, which were presented by Walter Cronkite School Sen. Michelle Lauer, recognize the prominence of both Downtown Campus Recreation and the Programming and Activities Board, and therefore would give them money accordingly. It would require ASASUD to give out approximately half of each semester’s $138,000 budget to the two groups at the beginning of every semester.

The math is based on this semester’s numbers. The $45,938.10 recently given to campus recreation is roughly 33 percent of the student government’s budget, and the $16,848.92 that has already been given to PAB will most likely end up being close to 15 to 20 percent. According to the numbers, the other half of ASASUD’s budget would be divided evenly among about 50 student organizations, allotting each one roughly $1,380 per semester that the Budget Allocations Committee could dispense on their own. Budget requests above $1,380 would be heard in the Senate.

Lauer voiced her opinion that ASASUD should be facilitating the money rather than operating like a bank.

“We started out giving out tons of money, and now we’ve had to be extremely frugal, which makes us look illegitimate and unprofessional,” she said at the meeting. “I’m proposing we standardize the process and start operating under the assumption that these organizations can use the money we allocate correctly.”

These changes are not official yet, but a formal written proposition will be presented at an ASASUD Judicial meeting on Monday.

The discussed changes were met with enthusiasm for the most part, but they were not readily accepted in their current form. Jose Rios, director of parliamentary procedures, expressed concern that simply giving these two organizations money would not be abiding by each senator’s duty to represent his or her own group of students.

Sen. Dustin Volz, of Barrett, the Honors College, didn’t like the idea of giving preferential treatment to two student organizations, but he did acknowledge that the changes are a step in the right direction.

Lauer said she was not daunted by the idea of revisions, however. She said that everyone agrees that changes need to be made, and even if only some of the changes in her proposition are approved, she said she will feel like she is actually doing her job as a senator.

“I think my proposition was met enthusiastically because we all know the system needs to be changed,” Lauer said in an interview over Facebook. “I didn’t sign up to be loan shark … I think we need to be focusing on student initiatives rather than allocating money.”

Another topic of discussion was amending the constitution with regard to the Election Committee and the appeals process.

Last year, when candidates presidential and vice-presidential candidates Andres Cano and Vaughn Hillyard were disqualified from the student government elections, their appeal to the Elections Committee was all but ineffective, especially because the procedures for such an appeal were indistinct and unofficial. ASASUD hopes to avoid similar problems in the future by establishing an appeals process and using a superior court system similar to the judicial board in Tempe.

Other highlights of the meeting include Sen. Daiyaan Colbert proposing the incorporation of the Arizona Republic on the Downtown campus and the approval of multiple funding requests, including one for DPC Aware, a new program promoting methods for dealing with common wellness issues including stress, depression, anxiety and nutrition.

The Downtown Dance team also received some money to pay for a disc jockey and a dance floor for a dance party on Dec. 6.

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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 8, 2010

An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly the changes that would occur to the ASASUD funding requests process under a proposal that will be put forward by Sen. Michelle Lauer. The proposal would give the Budget Allocations Committee power to approve or deny funding requests under a certain amount equal among student organizations, which this semester would have been $1,380. An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that student organizations other than Downtown campus recreation and the Programming and Activities Board would only have $1,380 per semester for funding requests under the proposed changes.