Associated Students cut $500,000 from 2023-2024 student-centered program budgets

by Peyton Leone

In less than an hour on Sept. 29, Associated Students (A.S.) cut more than $529,000 to create a new budget for A.S. funded programs for the 2023-2024 school year. The new approved budget of $749,020 is 41% lower than the $1,278,517 that was originally approved April 2023.

Sam Parker, A.S. president, said the Budget Office contacted A.S. on Aug. 30 about the cuts because low enrollment brought less revenue than planned to the university and to student fees, which fund A.S.

The original 2023-2024 budget was planned expecting 7,749 students to bring over $1,086,864. Only $786,000 was collected from 5,858 students this fall. This budget was approved by the previous A.S board and signed by President Tom Jackson on May 16.

“They didn’t really create a backup plan for what would happen if there wasn’t that increase,”  said Parker. 

For the past three years, A.S. spent more money than it collected from student fees, made possible by using A.S. savings. A fee increase was passed last spring to help fix gaps in the budget.

The six A.S. funded groups that attended the Sept. 29 meeting received the following cuts: Waste Reduction & Resource Awareness Program 17%, Asian Desi Pacific Islander Collective Middle Eastern North Africa 20%, Campus Center for Appropriate Technology 15%, Scholars Without Borders 24%, Eric Rofes Queer Multicultural Resource Center 29% and the Women’s Resource Center 37%.

Associate Vice President Andres Olmos said the priority for the new budget was to fund what programs needed to keep their student staff employed. 

Being at the meeting benefited groups by thousands of dollars because they were able to argue for their programs. The six groups were allowed to freely comment on budget items outside of their own groups.

Three campus groups did not receive any funding from the adjusted budget: Marching Lumberjacks, Food Sovereignty Lab and Student Art Gallery (SAG). El Leñador tried to contact several groups not in attendance for comment. At the time of publication, only SAG responded.

Samantha Poplukew, a student worker at SAG, said SAG did not attend the Sept. 29 meeting because it was told on Sept. 27 by email that their $9,000 budget would “rollover”. They were surprised to get a zero budget.

The following groups were cut by 50% or more: El Centro Academico Cultural 81%, Diverse Male Scholarship Initiative 59%, Children’s Center 60%, the pool 70%, Recreational Sports 50%, Youth Educational Services 77%.

A.S. Decision Making Process

According to Parker, A.S. had its first meeting about these budget cuts on Sept. 6. Then a public meeting about the budget on Sept. 15 was rescheduled due to technical internet difficulties. Another meeting was held on Sept. 18. to hear programs’ concerns about the budget where attendees were told to defend their budgets on Sept. 29.

When asked if the meeting was accessible to impacted groups, Olmos said he reached out to all A.S. funded groups. Parker noted that they did not have the staffing to do additional outreach.

At the Sept. 29 meeting, Legislative Vice President, Tashenae Burns-Young said A.S. is working to better communicate with its funded groups by adding liaisons that will communicate between the groups and A.S.

“The next step in the budget approval process is for AS to submit the budget to the President for approval,” said Aileen Yoo of Humboldt Marketing and Communications. “It is difficult to speculate when the President will approve the budget since he has not received it yet.”

Original and new budgets provided by Associated Students. Budgets lowered by over 50% highlighted in red. Percentage calculated using ((a-b)/b) by Peyton Leone

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