A drop in enrollment and a stagnant student fee has hamstrung Central Student Government’s funding, which will likely award $36,000 less to student groups this semester than it did last semester.
Business senior Eric Kibler, CSG’s treasurer, said $120,000 of CSG’s preliminary budget has been set aside for the Student Organization Funding Commission, compared to $156,000 last semester.
The $120,000 is only 41 percent of CSG’s $293,451 total budget for this semester, which is generated from a $7.19 per-semester fee from each student and any rollover funds.
In a viewpoint published by The Michigan Daily in March, Business senior Mike Proppe, CSG president, and Public Policy senior Bobby Dishell, CSG’s vice president promised at least half of CSG’s budget would go to SOFC.
Kibler said the 50 percent benchmark wasn’t possible because CSG lost roughly $30,000 in student fee revenue this semester. According to preliminary figures given to CSG, members said about 4,000 fewer students enrolled for class this semester than in the fall — pending any increase or decrease following the add/drop deadline.
Kibler said when the budget was drafted, funding SOFC was a priority, but CSG’s compiled code has specific rules against cutting money from some areas of student government.
“We couldn’t really cut anywhere else in the budget,” Kibler said.
Still, as the semester progresses, unused money from some segments of CSG could be moved to SOFC’s budget.
Some CSG leaders hope raise the $7.19 student fee for CSG — which hasn’t been raised since 2005 — to alleviate budgetary shortfalls.
Even in the winter 2013 semester, when SOFC had $185,000 to award, student organizations requested more than $700,000, Kibler said.
While Kibler said not all requests of SOFC are necessary, he and Proppe have discussed raising the fee with administrators.
“I would like to see CSG have a higher income,” Kibler said. “Personally, I would like to double the fee.”
Raising the student fee has been an annual discussion among student government leaders.
Business junior Skylar Pursell, the current SOFC chair, said in an e-mail interview even if the revenue were increased, it’s not clear that SOFC would get substantially more funds.
“For example, commissions like the Detroit Engagement Commission or the Social Justice Commission are doing great work and could use more money to further their efforts,” he wrote. “So increasing the fee wouldn’t guarantee that the new money would come directly back to SOFC.”
Kibler, who has served on SOFC, said he enjoyed his work on the commission, but acknowledged it wasn’t easy.
“There are a lot of great organizations out there,” he said. “Our help, I think, can make or break events … Every single decision is tough.”