Since budget hearings have started and the money has begun flowing, let’s examine how things have been looking so far.
Based on a report encompassing submitted requests to Student Government for October, there were 326 operational budget requests, 191 travel requests and a mere 882 event requests. Requests opened Oct. 2 and the most recent request was submitted on Oct. 13.
The budget committee oversees operational and travel requests. I’ve been doing my best to attend meetings and conduct live streams to help with transparency, so I’ve gotten a feel for how it goes. If I had to sum it up, many of the problems people ran into in the previous cycle still exist, most likely because the Senate failed to make any adjustments to the financial codes since the last cycle.
There was still confusion over considering something a general body meeting or an event due to the vague definitions within our codes. A lot of student organizations have also been running into issues with accidentally requesting too much money for advertising, likely because the regulation that limits the amount of funding for advertising is not in the “funding limits” section of the finance rules.
There are a million things SG could have done to help organizations and it hardly feels like they are trying. Updating finance training videos? Nah. Updating the financial codes "SparkNotes"? Nope. Providing an online calculator to help people navigate the multiple funding limits in place? Too smart: can’t do it.
Many people have been messaging me about when their organization's budget hearings are going to start. I have no clue. If I was on the budget or allocations committee perhaps I would, but SG repeatedly chose nepotism over competency when I’ve applied to them over the last three years.
But let’s look at what’s been going on. At the close of the last budget hearing, they finished with the 64th operational request. Since travel requests also fall under their jurisdiction, they should have heard up to 44 travel requests at that time too. If you consider that it took about 19.5 hours to hear around 108 requests, you get a rate of around 5.5 requests per hour — or about 74 more hours of budget hearings from that committee to hear all requests.
The allocations committee moves at a brisker pace, scheduling 22 event requests within two-hour meetings. At 11 requests per hour, it will take them around 78 more hours to hear all requests.
Organizations have been receiving notification of budget hearings on a rolling basis, so if you haven’t received a notification yet, it might be a while: that is if there’s still money left by the time your request is heard.
Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. Much more money was requested than is available and SG neglected to keep the public informed. What's perhaps worse is that SG did not close the requests even when it was clear that funding would no longer be available to new requestors. There are around $812,000 allocated for the spring and $2.3 million requested for that same time.
I’ll let you do the math to see if your request will be approved. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Zachariah Chou is a UF political science senior and serves as the Murphree Area Senator.