Students here at UF pay a fee of $19.06 per credit hour called the “Activity and Service Fee.” Multiply that by however many credit hours students are taking, and this is how Student Government gets its $21 million budget.
If anyone from SG is reading this, I suppose now would be a good time to point out that the link to the amended Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget under “Resources” on the SG website is broken: “404 - File or directory not found.”
But since I’m a senator and I have it in my email, I can reveal that our budget specifically is $20,819,571 for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Okay, so how much money does it cost to fund overnight hours for Library West in the Fall and Spring? Around $150,000. I should probably mention that SG in the past hasn’t asked for overnight hours in the Summer, which means Newell does bring some benefits for those looking to do all-nighters in the Summer. Additionally, it would be responsible to mention almost two-thirds of our budget goes toward funding the Reitz Union and RecSports so that’s more on the side of non-discretionary spending.
Funding overnight hours, that $150k figure, would be an astounding 0.72 percent of our current budget. A lot of my exasperation over this whole debacle is because I know all the less-than-stellar money moves we make as a SG.
For example, for Gator Growl last year, SG paid $180,000 just so students could have the opportunity to pay like 15 bucks to watch Snoop Dogg smoke what was honestly probably weed on stage and listen to Daya sing some songs. Like, I mean at least it’s less money than when SG paid $230,000 for the acts the year before. Only God knows if Florida Blue Key turns a profit from Gator Growl, even with SG’s what-feels-like-a-giant-subsidy.
There's also the little things, like the fact that SG paid $190 for headshots of our Senate President and Pro Tempore (disclaimer: I run the Gator Career Closet’s free headshot program, so I find this particularly offensive). There was also the time we spent $1,972 on Newell Hall T-shirts and $2,645 on commemorative "Newell Hall Challenge Coins." State of the Campus shirts? That'll be $2,319.50. Food for that one event? $507.50.
As much as I love handing out goodies during tabling and eating forgettable food at events, the way we spend our money sometimes makes me wonder if we’re being the best possible stewards we can be.
I’m not saying that this is what’s going on, but it feels like SG just doesn’t want to pay for the libraries anymore so they can use the money for other stuff. As I mentioned before, our budget was indeed kind of tight with the incurred costs of running Newell… But then we got a budget increase this past June of $408,219. Our original budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 was around $20.4 million, but then the estimated amount of credit hours students would take increased, so we suddenly had access to more money.
Looking over how we divide up the funds, I like to think we’re spending it on a lot of things we should be spending it on, such as salaries, projects, organizational funding and much-needed maintenance projects. But yeah, no overnight library funding. We’ve been going through first and second readings for fiscal year 2019-20 in the Senate these past couple weeks and no overnight library funding in there for next year either.
There’s clearly different budget priorities at play here, which can be fine — there’s a lot of things deserving of money. However, the optics look pretty poor to have massive outcry over cutting money from library support followed up by SG getting a budget increase, not restore funding and then arguing that we shouldn’t have been providing funding in the first place.
I’ll have a part 5 next week.
Questions, comments or concerns? Email me at [email protected].
Zachariah Chou is a UF political science junior and Murphree Area Senator. His column focuses on Student Government.