Let's start off with some truths and myths!
TRUTH: USG is Funded by the Student Activity Fee which is paid by YOU
Every Baruch College student is required to pay the Student Activity Fee each semester. Students who are matriculating pay $125.00 while students who take classes part-time pay $85.00. This money goes towards what it sounds like it does: activities and programs for students. There is a number of advantages that the student activity fee has, including that isn’t tax levied, nor is it controlled by the State or the CUNY system. It is a completely private fund that is allocated by the Baruch College Association’s Board of Directors. That Board consists of six students who serve as voting members, including the USG President, the President of the Graduate Student Assembly, and four students voted on by the student body.
MYTH: The entire Activity Fee Goes to USG
$125.00 x 15,000 undergraduate students (to keep it simple we are assuming that they are all matriculated students) x 2 semesters equals….. So what I am trying to say is the fund is dispersed among a large number of organizations on campus for the sake of the student body.
But who controls this large fund? Well it’s controlled by the students and maintained by the Board of Directors. Let me explain:
Students can petition to change how much the Student Activity Fee is and how much would go to each entity.
In order for any of those things to change, a minimum of 10% of the Undergraduate Student Body must sign a petition in support of the increase, followed by a vote where a minimum of 10% of the Student Body must accept those changes.
The Board of Directors every year approves each entity's’ planned budget for the following year. For example every year USG, The Ticker, Encounters Magazine, etc. must present a budget to the Board of Directors in order to receive their budget for the following year.
If you want to see a brief explanation of each part of the Association and how the student activity fee is broken down for part time students and summer students please click here.
Breakdown of Student Activity Fee for Full-time Students
MYTH: Every Time USG has an Event Clubs get Less Money
This is a rumor I hear all the time and I cannot believe it every time I hear it. But I also understand that people may assume this since the everyday student does not understand how the budgets work.
To break it down, USG has "control" over four budgets: 1) Clubs & Organizations, 2) Clubs & Organizations Surplus (aka Appeals Budget), 3) an USG Programming Budget, and 4) the USG’s Operational Budget. Just to be clear USG's "control" over the first two budgets is different the last two. USG has the responsibility to distribute the Clubs and Orgs and Appeals budget to clubs to spend, but USG is not allowed to spend this money on our own projects. On the other hand we are allowed to spent the Programming and Operations budget on USG's initiatives. When USG has an event or spends any money from its Programming Budget or its Operational Budget, it has zero affect on any club’s or organization’s budget They are completely separate from USG’s own monies. The reason why the Clubs and Organizations budget is referred to on paper as the “USG Clubs & Organizations Budget” is because the USG--like at all other colleges and universities across the Country--is responsible for maintaining that budget. That includes ensuring that the budget is being spent in a diversified manner by leiu of the Undergraduate Student Senate. In short, the USG has the responsibility to allocate the Clubs & Organizations Budget but it cannot spend it. We do have the ability to spend the Programming Budget and USG Budget only.
Today, I will briefly define the Programming and Operations budget and explain the appeals and clubs and organizations budget.
Clubs & Organizations Budget (Power to Allocate not Spend)
This is the sum of money that is used to allocate the budgets for all clubs on campus for the academic year. This is the money that USG’s Finance Committee must work with to give each club or organization the fairest possible budget. This is $12.00 that every full time undergraduate student ($6.15 for part time) is expected to pay. The key thing to notice is the word “expected.” There is a larger number of students than one would think that don’t actually end up paying their student activity fee for whatever reason that is. So it is usually about 80% of students that end up paying their student activity fee. So every year the total amount that USG is able to allocate to clubs is give or take $280,000, which is to be distributed amongst 125 clubs of all different sizes.
Clubs & Orgs Surplus Budget (aka Appeals Budget) (Power to Allocate not Spend)
The Appeals Budget is for clubs their to help clubs who need more money for their events. All clubs are welcome to apply for any of their events for additional funds. Now where the appeals funds come from is slightly more complicated than the rest of the budgets. The Appeals budget comprises mostly of the money that clubs did not spend of their prior budget in the prior year. Plus the buffer that the appeals committee is required to have.
To explain the budget that club leaders have grown to know and love as the “Appeals Budget” is really the Surplus of from last year’s original Clubs and Orgs Budget.
To give an example...Let’s say Baruch consisted of two clubs: Accounting for Geminis and Upsilon Sigma Gamma. They both were allocated a budget of $500 for the academic year of 2015-2016 but both did not spend $100 of their respective budgets then a total of $200 will go to the appeals budget for the year of 2016-2017. This would be added to the buffer that USG had to keep in mind (usually 15-20% of the original appeals budget). Every year the Appeals budget ends up being somewhere from $80,000-$100,000 every year.
Programming Budget (Ability to Spend)
First off, I want to answer the question that everyone has which is: why does USG get two budgets? This is a great questions and the answer is because USG (as at most CUNY colleges) has been given the job of two organizations found on most college campuses in the U.S. The responsibility of acting as the Student Government and acting as the Student Programming Board.
At most colleges, there is a Student Programming Board that throws large-scale events for the student body and is run by students. The Student Programming Board is typically completely separate from the Student Government. But at Baruch, the Student Programming Board and its Student Government are the same. Therefore, the USG is responsible for holding large-scale events for the College and to represent student interests as its Student Government. All-in-all, this is why you see the USG holding large events throughout the year.
Student Government Budget (Ability to Spend)
This is the budget that is also known as USG’s Operations Budget. It’s what allows it to operate on a day-to-day basis. I will pretty much leave this explanation here for this week because it the first one that will be broken down on this blog.
So that’s all I will bore you with for today. Please comment and leave your questions! Next week will be the first part of The USG Operations Budget!
I look forward to your comments!
President of USG 2015-2016