As Southern Adventist University’s student population prepares to elect new Student Association (SA) leadership, current SA leaders provided the Accent with information about the group’s budget in previous years.
The first question students might ask about the budget is, “Where does SA get its money?” A close look at students’ financial statements would reveal a fee called the “general fee.”
Doug Frood, associate vice president for Financial Administration, explained that 19% of each student’s general fee is allocated to SA’s budget, and this is where 90% of SA’s revenue comes from. For each student, this amounts to $170 a semester, or $340 every academic year. A previous Accent article on the university’s budget explained that the remaining percentage of students’ general fees goes to multiple school expenses, including technology and wellness.
The remaining 10% of SA’s budget, Frood said, comes from charging students directly at events for miscellaneous add-ons.
According to the Southern Adventist University website, southern.edu, SA’s mission is to “serve and represent the student body in all facets of university life.” Briana Collins, SA’s financial vice president, explained that services and events for students, such as Senate, the Accent, Strawberry Festival and clubs, rely on SA’s budget to fund their projects throughout the school year.
In an email, Collins stated that the budget is divided into five major sections: Strawberry Festival receives 5%, Senate 13%, The Accent 14%, Executive (Smile Initiatives, 423 Night, etc.) 17% and Social receives the most at 22% of the overall budget. The way the money is allocated each year depends on the need presented by each section.
“That’s why, for Senate, we really encourage them to spend their budget on their projects. Otherwise, their budget could be cut. If they’re not using the money, then we’re not gonna keep giving money,” Collins said. “Budget increases for a certain group if they use a majority of their money.”
Collins would not share the total amount of money in SA’s budget with the Accent, as SA does not want to disclose that information to students.
According to Collins, due to a steady influx of students over the past few years, SA’s budget has increased.
“The budget is calculated by the amount of students that come. That gives us a total revenue, and each account can increase by that amount. So an increase in students just increases the amount,” she said.
Once SA calculates the revenue for the upcoming school years, they meet with sponsors and administrative leaders to decide where to allocate funds.
“People in SA can’t do something without getting approval from everyone,” Collins said.
Before enacting a plan for an event or program, the project has to receive approval from Dennis Negrón, vice president for Student Development; Teri Reutebuch, administrative assistant for Student Development; Kari Shultz, director of Student Life and Activities; and Danny Johns, head cashier for Accounting Services, according to Collins.
She said SA works closely with Frood to “look at information from previous years” and create a budget for the upcoming year. The budget is then presented to Senate, where the body has a chance to either accept or decline the proposal. Senate has the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns over aspects of the new budget.
The price range for the event depends on its size and the specific events the SA social vice president has in mind, Collins added. “Big parties,” such as the Welcome Back Party, cost SA an average of $10,000, while smaller ones, such as the Super Bowl Watch Party, cost about $2,000, she said.
A recent change in the budget due to the loss of Memories and Studio 4109 led SA to fund Game Show Day, a convocation event held on Jan. 13.
“We [previously] had Memories and Studio; those were more areas that we put money into,” Collins said. “We did get all of our money cut for Studio; and in the next year, we’re not gonna have any budget for Memories. So that’s why this year we had a little bit of extra money to work with.”
SA uses leftover funds from the past academic years to help fund other projects around campus.
Frood said SA has been adding money to the endowment fund for international studies, funded the kitchen area outside in the promenade and helped fund the basketball courts outside the Hulsey Wellness Center.
According to Collins, Senate is the best way students can voice their opinions and suggestions for the SA budget.
“I think Senate is a good way to contribute,” she said. “If students want to make a change in the budget, they can voice their concerns.”
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