ASWU budget proposal: what you need to know

Colleen Bell | Copy Chief

On Wednesday, May 8, the ASWU general assembly will vote on the proposed budget for the 2019-2020 academic year, as prepared by the budget committee.

Budget Committee is composed of the incoming and outgoing executives, the Director of Student Activities, the ASWU Bookkeeper, two voting members of the assembly, the assembly secretary, two nonvoting ASWU members, and two non-ASWU members of the student body chosen by the FVP.

“I chose people from the accounting department this year that were willing to be on the committee and each brought different perspectives,” said financial vice president Chelsea Shearer, who is a junior and a business administration major.

The budget committee process is private in order to protect the members of the committee, Shearer said. She did, however, give a little insight as to what plays into each decision.

“Most of the decisions for budgeting comes from data pulled together from remaining money in accounts, the amounts allocated in previous years, and student needs,” she said. “Each club and most of the ASWU employees are required to present and we hear what they have done this year as well as what their plans for next year are, which also plays into our decision making process.”

The budget proposal document was released to dorm senators and other ASWU assembly members, who may release it to constituents at their discretion, and is also available in a link from the Whitworthian’s Facebook page.

Here is a breakdown of the proposed budget:

With an increase to ASWU student fees, from $120 per student per semester to $125 per student per semester, the overall budget is proposed to increase from $520 thousand to $556 thousand.

There are five new clubs this year, and four previously existing clubs did not charter for 2018-19, but will recharter and receive ASWU funds for 2019-20. Fifteen clubs either did not recharter or did not ask for money.

Of the clubs that chartered and asked for money in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years, 14 clubs are facing budget cuts and six will remain stagnant, while 11 will get increased budgets.  

Some of the largest club budget cuts proposed for next year are to U.S.I.T.T. ($250 or 83% of their previous budget), Jubilation Dance Ministry ($400 or 57% of their previous budget), H.O.L.A. ($1200 or 56% of their previous budget), Swing and Ballroom Dance Club ($400 or 50% of their previous budget), Ch.A.O.S ($250 or 45% of their previous budget), Bangarang ($600 or 37% of their previous budget), Business Club ($200 or 33% of their previous budget) and En Christo ($1000 or 20% of their previous budget).

The general operations budget is being cut by approximately $28,000 or 72%. The programs being cut are student bus passes and the newspaper readership program.

The Universal Transit Access Program (UTAP) is a partnership which has been in place at Spokane Falls Community College, Gonzaga and Eastern Washington University for several years, and was new this year at Whitworth. UTAP provides bus passes free of charge to students, only charging ASWU for what is used, up to about $21,000. This maximum amount was budgeted for this year, and the actual charge is not included in the report.

The readership program provides free copies of the New York Times, the Spokesman-Review, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Inlander to students through  news racks in the HUB, Robinson, the art building and Weyerhauser.

Shearer said the decision to eliminate the program was based on observation of the rack in the HUB, which is located next to the closet under the stairs by the info desk.

“The readership program was something that barely made it on to this years budget,” she said. “We have had HUB Managers and other ASWU employees monitor how many of the newspapers are being taken each day and the numbers were so low it made spending the money seem unreasonable.”

Others, however, disagree.

“I would say that it seems pretty successful,” said sophomore Steven Dunn. “For about the amount of newspapers that are brought each day, about that amount seem to be taken, and in my observation it’s not just professors taking them, it’s students. I see them being read in the cafeteria, I see them being read in the cafe, everywhere.”

Communication professor Ron Pyle is also concerned about the effect this decision might have on campus.

"It’s possible that there are good reasons behind the decision," he said. "That said, I do think it’s unfortunate that we are removing one of the ways that our campus community can be in touch with important local and national events. If our community is less informed, the quality of our thought and discourse may be adversely affected."

Some programs and accounts are seeing budget increases. The largest increase, aside from the unallocated funds for club and ASWU use, is a $13000, or 500%, increase to the marketing and PR budget, intended to be used for a new ASWU smartphone app.

“One thing ASWU is really looking forward to next year is introducing the new app we have planned,” Shearer said. “We have had a search committee going all year to find an app that would be better than what we currently use (or are lacking use of) and made sure that it had the resources we needed. The app we have planned is the same one that Gonzaga uses and when we got in touch with their student activities director, there was a really positive response and good outlook that it would be worth it for students to use.”

ASWU’s existing app is still available on the Google Play Store, with the last update to it having been posted in September 2017. Gonzaga’s website contains no information about their current app.

ASWU’s conference budget is also increasing, by $1800, or 45%, and their fall/spring retreat budget increased by $1000, or 29%.

“The conferences/retreat budget for ASWU was reallocated to reflect what is already being spent,” said Shearer. “We are hoping that we could use those accounts for different things and have the retreat fund actually cover the cost of the retreat.”

The full budget proposal can be accessed through the Whitworthian Facebook page or by contacting an ASWU assembly member.