SGA vote

SGA senators raise hands to cast a vote on debating a bill at the SGA senate meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9.

At the beginning of every fiscal year, the Student Government Association senate sets a budget for its committees; however, two committees go over budget every year.

Of the six committees in senate, the two that spend the most money are the Conference, Registration and Travel Committee and the Financial Allocations for Organizations Committee. Both committees fund the more than 650 registered student organizations' trips and events.

CRT funds organizations to go on trips to conferences, and FAO funds organizations holding events on campus. The committees can fund up to half of the cost for RSOs.

At the beginning of this fiscal year, which starts on July 1 and ends June 30, the two committees started with a total of $966,000, with $556,000 being allocated to CRT and $410,000 allocated to FAO, according to FAO Chair David Sidhom. But every year the two run out of money. 

"We run out, every year,” Senate President Pro Tempore Sierra Scott said. “Every single year.”

Last year, CRT ran out of money in February. Normally, CRT will run out of money before FAO. Funds that organizations and students receive are normally higher for CRT because of the conference registration, travel and hotel fees, CRT Chair Joseph Cubow said. 

With CRT running out of funds on a regular basis, one of the resolutions in past years was for FAO to transfer money to CRT after CRT is out of funds. However, that money typically runs out in March, according to Cubow and Scott.

This year, Cubow, a sophomore aerospace engineering major, and Sidhom, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, workshopped ideas to prevent running out of money. The idea that was settled on was to split the money up into four different three-month quarters.

“We think we can better mediate this issue by cutting it into four quarters,” Cubow said. “So that when we do run out of money, it’s more frequent, but it’s for a shorter period of time, about two or three weeks per quarter.”

Others are not so confident the idea will work. While Scott, a sophomore political science and legal studies major, was open to new ways on how to save money, she said she believes the committees will run out of money every three months now instead of once a year.

“I feel like it’s going to lead to more disappointment,” Scott said. “And it’s going to hurt more RSOs than it’s going to help.”

The quarters system will be implemented in January 2018. The remaining money will be split into two halves to give a trial run for the new system. Sidhom said he believes two quarters will be enough time to find out if the system will work.

“Right now, even starting the quarter method in the spring, it’s not going to be a true quarter, because we already started spending money, pulling out of the pot right now,” Sidhom said. “So, the spring won’t be as indicative as we’d like it to be, but it will provide a good amount of data, especially for the fourth quarter.”

Once the two committees are out of money, they do not receive any more for the rest of the year. Any organization that asks for money is turned down because SGA cannot pull money from anywhere else.

If the senate was to receive any more money from the $18.6 million SGA budget, other SGA funded entities, such as the Recreational Wellness Center, would receive less money, Cubow said.

The senate sees anywhere from 100 to 150 bills a session seeking funding to go on a trip or host an event at UCF. Almost all organizations that ask for money when the committees still have funds receive it. The senate does not like to turn down organizations that who have done research on cost effective travel and would benefit from a trip, Scott said. 

Not only does CRT fund organizations, but it also funds individual students who travel to conferences and present research papers among other activities. Cubow said these are one of the most “vital” types of trips they fund.

Scott’s advice to students who know they will need funding later in the year is to apply early to secure funding. The senate president pro tempore also said the senate has talked to students to get an idea how they feel about the situation.

One of the organizations that gave input was the International Relations Club. The club told Scott that they have gotten used to the status quo of having to apply early for funding. 

Even if the quarters plans does not work, CRT and FAO will still try to find another way to make the money last, and to make the most out of it.

“We’re trying to make sure that this entire budget is funded by the students’ tuition,” Cubow said. “That $11.67 that comes out of your tuition, per credit hour, goes into this budget. And we want to make sure that we are funding the proper conferences. And we want to make sure that they have professional merit and that they’re coming back to UCF in a positive way.”

As of Nov. 8, CRT has $223,330.18 remaining, and FAO has $285,149.18 to spread out until the end of December when the committees can put into effect the quarters strategy and try to solve the spending problem.

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