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Thursday, May 06, 2021

With renewed scrutiny over Student Government’s ability to handle our money, I feel as though it would be a great idea to go over how the budget works, especially with the new class of 2023 likely scratching their collective heads.

First, let’s talk about student fees. People generally don’t know the difference between the kinds of fees and what they are used for. The most helpful document comes from Student Government in the form of a PDF called “Student Fee Breakdown” dated “2016-07-27.” I am actually unaware of where this document resides on our SG website as I’ve only found it through Google, but my guess is that because it’s a very useful document, someone thought it ought to be made very hard to find.

Student Government gets the bulk of its money from the Activity and Service Fee, which is a $19.06 fee per credit hour that you pay (or Bright Futures/etc.). The total amount of credit hours taken by everyone multiplied by the Fee nets us our total budget, $21,444,157 for this fiscal year.

About a third of this money goes toward the Reitz Union and Student Activities and Involvement (at $7,964,092, it’s about 37 percent of the budget). Big buildings and big programming cost big money, so I don’t think many of us can complain.

Second place is Recreational Sports at $7,093,161, or about 33 percent of the budget. This funds not only the gyms, but also Lake Wauburg and our sports clubs (again, no complaints, aside from my legs after leg day).

Student Government gets the rest at $6,386,904, or about 30 percent of the budget. Student organization funding lives here at a sum of $1,376,53, or about 6 percent of the total budget. Student Government split this sum 41-59 between the Fall and Spring semesters because apparently more programming happens in the Spring. 

This semester, SG allocated $346,948.37 to organizations' operational budgets to support general body meetings. SG also allocated $210,779.34 for events this semester. Add those two numbers and you get $557,727.71, and that’s pretty close to what happens if you estimate how much would be allocated for the Fall semester under that 41-59 percent split: $564,377.71 (so it’s $6,650 off).

I’m not quite sure where in our codes it says we have to split it 41-59, but apparently that’s the way it is. Because of this, we are already “out of money” for the Fall. Good luck if you want to travel or host an event that wasn’t already approved.

Student Government hasn’t publicly come out with a solution yet, so unfortunately, y’all are stuck with mine for now. SG has a reserves account that has a couple million dollars sitting around just in case, meant to be spent on one-time causes. I truly hope that the disastrous implementation of this new funding system is a one-time event, so what I’m trying to do is transfer $800,000 to support struggling organizations for the time being. Whether the powers that be will allow it to happen remains to be seen.

Zachariah Chou is a UF political science senior and serves as the Murphree Area SG senator.

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