The ASUO budget for the 2019-20 academic year is set to be debated by the University of Oregon Board of Trustees on March 8. The decision will help to finalize a fiscal plan for the UO student government at a time when the financial situation for students seems increasingly difficult.
“From the very beginning, our base priority has been the students and student groups, and that they get the most out of the money,” said Luci Charlton, ASUO Senate Vice President and Treasurer.
She said that the budget, created from input by students and student groups and drawn up by the ASUO finance committees, came to roughly $17 million.
Originally, Charlton said the decision was to keep the same budgets for student groups going into the next year, but ASUO ended up giving increases to groups with 95 percent or better spending.
“Overall, the budget only increased by 3.5 percent, while usually it increases by 5 percent,” Charlton said. “So being able to come in below that is a huge win for us, because we weren't increasing fees as much.” She explained that most of the increases for the budget came from mandatory salary increases and costs for the Erb Memorial Union.
Charlton highlighted the labor of the ASUO finance committees, noting how hard they worked to create a student-oriented budget. “I feel like [the budget] really puts an emphasis on the students, and making the most out of every dollar people pay.”
Despite the success in crafting the budget, student government is still struggling with a deficit, which ASUO Chief of Staff Tan Perkins said has been the case for four year now.
“This was the worst year, with a $700 thousand deficit,” Perkins said.
A large part of the deficit issue stems from the UO's annual enrollment projections.
“Every year they say more people will come than actually come, and when you base a budget off the same hypothetical numbers, you end up in the position ASUO has been in for the past four years,” Perkins said.
Despite the negative effects of this growth discrepancy, Perkins explained that ASUO's hands were tied when it came to enacting change. ASUO attempted constitutional edits to reduce the reliance on enrollment projections, but administration would not allow the amendments.
“For some reason, we're in this cycle of delusion, and it seems to be impossible to get out,” said Perkins, further commenting that it will likely remain the case for the next ASUO administration.
Although the struggle may continue, Perkins stated that ASUO's goal of facilitating student success remains the same.
“I think ASUO has done the best job it could this year to make sure we don't cut services students use,” Perkins said. “Every student at this university is money, and we take that seriously.”