It is budget-request season once again at Florida Gulf Coast University, a messy process that just months ago brought much frustration to the greater student population.
Fortunately for all Registered Student Organizations, Student Government leaders have said that the 2015-16 fiscal year is projected to run more smoothly. But before students meet with the SG Appropriations Committee, they need to be aware of the new budgeting process in order to be considered for funding.
Thanks to the Paper Use Reduction Bill that was recently put into effect by SG, many parts of the budget process can be completed online. This will be a change from previous years when budget forms had to be printed out and handed in. Senate President Lisa Ray is optimistic that the improved processes and paperless initiative will make many people a lot happier.
“I think everything that we’re doing really supports FGCU’s sustainability focus,” Ray said. “We’re listening to what the students want and need while at the same time eliminating all of the mess. I think it really makes a statement that we’re making an effort to change. We’re all learning, but it is an easy transition.”
Appropriations Chair Thieldens Elneus has already kicked off the beginning steps for the budgeting process this past week.
“The first step for RSOs is to attend one of the budget forums,” Elneus said, “which will give students the information on what they need to do in order to be considered for funding. They’ll need to apply online and RSVP. They will also have to read and have a copy of the Statement of Understanding signed by all required members of the organizations in order to proceed with the process.”
The mandatory budget forums are approximately an hour long. Club leaders are required to attend for their budget request to be considered. Signing up for a forum can be done on the SG website, www.fgcusg.org. Students can also access information through the Office of Student Involvement.
After RSO officers attend a forum, they will need to print and sign a hard copy of the budget request application, which can also be found on the SG website. The application needs to be submitted to the Multicultural Leadership and Development Office in the Cohen Center, room 255 by noon on Oct. 14. Budget meetings will be scheduled after all requests have been submitted. Similar to last year’s process, a rubric has been created for the committee members to consider before granting any funding requests.
“We will be looking at the number of events put on throughout the year,” Elneus said. “We’ll be looking at the number of collaborations that they have with other organizations, fundraising records, their community outreach and service-learning initiatives and the overall membership of the organization. One thing that is different this year than from previous years is that we are looking at their rollback history, so how much money did they have left over from previous years that went unused?”
The appropriations committee, which is comprised of just six members, will also be looking at the overall effect that a club has on the campus. They intend to discuss each event and project that an organization completed in the past and determine how it benefited the overall
campus community. Elneus is confident that the committee will be able to come to an agreement with each club.
“That’s why we have the budget hearings,” Elneus said. “So that clubs can come in and talk to us to tell us what their overall mission is. If a club is just trying to have a small scale program, then we’re going to know that they’re not trying to do something grand, and they’re not going to need $10,000 toward a small scale program. We are going to try and listen to what their intention is and what their goals are and give them what suits their needs.”
There are nine more forums scheduled to take place throughout the next month. If students have any questions about the procedures or what they must complete on their own, they may stop by the SG offices in the Cohen Center or email [email protected]
“Have an open mind,” Ray said. “Let’s all share a positive outlook on the upcoming budget season.”