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Student activities take hit after state waivers at UNG
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Student activities budget
FY 2015: $477,081
FY 2016: $446,874

More than three-quarters of University of North Georgia student groups on the Gainesville campus will face budget cuts this year.

Some military personnel, combat veterans and dual-enrolled high school students attending UNG are now exempt from paying certain fees, but the campus didn’t have contingency funds to make up the difference, according to Kate Maine, associate vice president of university relations.

“The Gainesville campus is in the process of establishing a reserve fund that will allow them to handle changes that take place like this without affecting programming,” Maine said. “But as they begin to set up that reserve, some organizations saw a slight decrease.”

The fiscal year 2016 budget took effect Wednesday, and the Gainesville student activities budget alone decreased by $30,207, to a total $446,874.

According to the University System of Georgia, an institution may waive mandatory fees, including costs of textbooks and housing, for select students such as dual-enrolled, off-campus and distance-learning students, as well as military personnel and combat veterans.

Students participating in the “Move On When Ready” dual-enrollment program now pay a small flat fee.

Individual student activities budgets are determined by the Student Government Associations on each campus, according to Maine. The university determines a projected revenue based on the
number of students enrolled and lost costs from waivers. Then SGA leaders determine which group gets what amount of money.

“They take applications from student organizations … review their requests and allocate what they can based on the projected budget,” Maine said.

The recommended allocations are then sent to the Student Life Committee, which is mostly students and some faculty advisers. Many of these students are also SGA members, according to Maine.

On the Dahlonega and Oconee campuses, both SGAs had contingency funds that could be used to offset the effects of the waivers.

“The Gainesville campus did not have existing contingency funds and reduced funding for some groups as a result,” Maine said.

Of the 100 Gainesville UNG student activities that received funding for fiscal year 2016, 78 did not receive as much as they requested from SGA. SGA received the amount it formally requested, though it requested $865 less than last year.

“As compared to many of the other clubs, SGA has a fixed annual budget,” said Chad Loggins, Gainesville SGA treasurer. “Some of the clubs have a big part of their budgets set aside for travel and SGA does not.”

Eleven clubs will no longer receive funding whatsoever, including the Native American Student Association, which lost membership due to a lack of Native American student enrollment, and the Paralegal Club.

“The club did not apply (for funding),” said Cher Singleton, previous vice president for the Paralegal Club. “The club lost its leadership to graduating seniors in the spring, and new leadership will need to be established for fall.”

The UNG Diplomats for Diversity was one of the few student groups to receive a slight increase from its fiscal year 2015 budget to its fiscal year 2016 budget.

“We had heard the budgets were going to get cut and we definitely pitched a conservative number,” said Diplomats founder Jeremy Sharp. “We had to. We wanted to do a whole lot more, but we knew we would probably only be able to do the same as we did last year.”

Maine said she believes any group who requested funds received some funding.

Jordan Suggs Hood, president of the Radio Club and program manager for the student-run Decibel radio station and kHz Podcast Network, doesn’t think this year’s budget cuts will affect the members of his club.

“Since the station does not need a lot of money to run, most of the money in our budget goes to upgrading our mobile equipment,” Hood said. “kHz network gets all its funding from advertisers like Audible.com. We simply share the content with the station, as the content we make belongs to the student and not the college.”

Next year, Gainesville’s student activities should have more flexibility in the budgeting process, as the university allocated $10,968 to start a contingency fund.

UNG is also streamlining the way student activities on the different campuses are funded.

“We’ve been trying to get things more on the same page in terms of how things are handled in this process,” Maine said, “while still having a lot of flexibility on the campus level to fund student activities that are important to each campus.”

 

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