Two things you need to know about the changes that the ASUO Student Senate made to its forecasted budget.
The Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) Student Senate revised and passed its annual fiscal budget during the ASUO Budget Bonanza on Feb. 2.
ASUO is the university’s student government, and it manages the Incidental Fee, also known as the I-Fee. The I-Fee is a fee that UO students pay through tuition that covers the ASUO-recognized student groups that submit budget requests each fiscal year, the EMU, the free athletic tickets and the Lane Transit District bus tickets for UO students, according to the ASUO website.
ASUO has three branches, similar to the three branches of the federal government, and the ASUO Senate makes policy and funds recognized organizations — including the I-Fee. ASUO manages a budget of $16 million dollars, and this is the budget that was passed by the Senate earlier this February. ASUO Senate is divided into four finance committees that manage different kinds of spending: the Programs Finance Committee (PFC), the Departments Finance Committee (DFC), the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee (ACFC) and the EMU Board.
Twenty-three senators are elected to represent either an academic constituency or serve in a finance role, according to the ASUO website. Every academic major has a senator representing it.
UO President Michael Schill and the Board of Trustees review and debate on the budget created by the ASUO in early March, which is then finalized in mid-April.
Here are two things you need to know about what the senate changed.
- ACFC found a $97,000 dollar hole in the contract between LTD and the UO.
ACFC manages how the I-Fee is allocated to the UO athletic department, as well as all of ASUO’s contracted services. According to Keegan Williams-Thomas, a senator of seat 7 and an ACFC member, the number that the contract used to project the number of enrolled students using LTD services was inaccurate “to the tune of around 10,000 bus passes,” around $97,000 dollars.
UO and LTD calculated the number that was used to approximate the number of students before this fiscal year. ACFC found the error in the contract on Jan. 31, four days before the ASUO’s Budget Bonanza. As a result, ACFC recommended reducing $2,000 from ASUO’s contract with Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) and a reduction of OSPIRG’s budget.
Senator Williams-Thomas said that ACFC recommended reducing SASS’s budget because some of the services that SASS was billing ACFC for “were not occurring.”
These figures reflect changes from the committee benchmark to what was actually allocated and are a “revision in the process,” according to Williams-Thomas. In other words, these are changes to numbers in the budget for next year.
- The DFC recommended freezing all of the budgets under its jurisdiction.
DFC manages how the I-Fee is spent on ASUO-affiliated university departments, such as Knight Library, University Theatre and the Campus Zero Waste Program.
When ASUO Senate reviewed DFC’s budget, it decided to approve a benchmark of negative 0.35 percent for it. That means the Senate forecasted for a 0.35 percent decrease in funding for departments under DFC, according to Bond. Departments that had their budgets frozen had their funding fixed at a specific level; however, some departments actually requested decreases in their budgets.
“A lot of the departments we met with really understood the financial situation of the next fiscal year,” Bond said. “[They] were really able to work with us on spending those dollars in the best way possible.”
Senate committees get together to review budget requests from their constituent groups, and those committee members vote to approve a benchmark. The benchmark is how much they estimate that they can fund the departments, which is based on the ongoing and future financial situation.
Committees bring their recommended budgets and, based on all the different committees and their financial needs of committees’ constituents, the Senate approves a final benchmark.
“We were faced with a tight financial situation, and any of the decreases or any of the budgets that we froze should not — to our knowledge — be affecting any of the current services that are provided to services,” Bond said. “Students will still have access to all of the services they had before.”
ASUO Student Senate meetings are open to the public and take place every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the EMU Dusty Miller Room. You can learn more about the ASUO and what it does by visiting its website.
UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated that OSPIRG’s budget was frozen and was corrected to say that OSPIRG’s budget was reduced.
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