GPSA, Transit react to S&A cuts

ASWSU avoided cuts, committee points to self-imposed fee reductions


ASWSU President Jordan Frost adresses WSU's current budget, specifically talking about to student clubs and athletics.

Jordan Frost, ASWSU president and Services and Activities Fee Committee chair, said the student government cut its own spending before submitting funding requests.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

University entities that rely on Services and Activities fees as a source of revenue for the most part received less than they asked for as student leaders pushed for scaling back student fees.

At the beginning of April, these organizations came before the Services and Activities Fee Committee with requests for the 2018-19 academic year.

The committee deliberated for more than six hours before making final decisions on how much each group received. Most groups took a 2.5-percent cut from their final requests in an effort to lower the amount students pay in S&A fees by 2 percent.

The Graduate and Professional Student Association was one of the groups that received the 2.5-percent blanket cut.

Amir Gilmore, GPSA president-elect and current vice president, said the group planned to go to the committee with a 2.5-percent self-induced cut, but they had to give that money to the Children’s Center after it asked for funds from GPSA.

This caused the additional 2.5-percent cut to feel like a 5-percent total cut, Josh Munroe, GPSA vice president of Legislative Affairs, said.

“For us, we’re feeling a bit more of a squeeze than the numbers might imply,” Munroe said. “But this is part of a larger conversation that we have about what our priorities are.”

The group will now look at other areas in the organization to find ways to decrease budgetary needs, Gilmore said, because they want to avoid cutting anything that will decrease the services they provide their constituents.

“The thing is, we don’t have a lot of fluff or extra cash,” he said. “Our budget was built to be very fiscally responsible.”

Pullman Transit, a group that avoided the 2.5-percent blanket cut, requested a 10 percent increase from last year. The Transit Advisory Group, made up of student representatives, the associate vice president, executive director of public safety and a Transportation Services official, gave a proposal to the committee, requesting 10 percent more than the previous year.

This request came as a result of the committee refusing the 5-percent increase requested the previous year. Students voted to have Transit ask for a yearly 5-percent increase to maintain operations a few years ago, Chris Boyan, WSU Transportation Services assistant director of operations, said.

This year, the committee agreed to give Transit a 5-percent increase. This will allow it to continue to operate as normal, but doesn’t allow a lot of extra funds for other purposes, Boyan said.

“We will still be able to maintain transit service for all of next year,” he said. “It just doesn’t leave us with much operating contingency in case something goes bad, but we don’t foresee anything happening that would create an issue for maintaining transit service levels.”

S&A fees are one of three sources of revenue for the transit budget, with the other two being the student transit fee and money from WSU Transportation Services, Boyan said. Pullman Transit, run by the City of Pullman, handles most of the operations of the transit system.

ASWSU Executive, Senate and Senate Programming avoided  the blanket cuts. ASWSU did not receive a scaled-back version of its request because it asked for less funds than the previous year, the S&A Committee said.

ASWSU Executive asked the committee for about $110,000 less in S&A fee appropriations, a drop of almost 40 percent. Jordan Frost, ASWSU president and S&A Committee chair, said students had voiced concern over how much they paid in fees.

“As we started to go around and talk to students,” Frost said, “there were even more students who expressed [that] ‘fees are too high, you need to find a way to cut them.’ ”

He also said the group noticed large amounts of unneeded spending on areas like entertainment, which other groups can handle.

“Buying shirts isn’t a part of what we need to do, putting on big programs isn’t a part of what we need to do,” Frost said, “but advocating and serving students is a part of what we need to do.”

The group requested a slight increase for wages and salaries. ASWSU Executive also spent about $62,000 on “other expenses” in the 2017-18 year, but requested only $1,500 for that purpose this year. S&A request documents do not specify what this money is spent on. Frost said “other expenses” was an allocation of money the group could use for costs like the ASWSU retreat, which was about $20,000.

The other ASWSU groups, Senate and Senate Programming, also made smaller requests than the previous year. Senate requested about $18,000 less, while Senate Programming estimated a $30,000 decrease in its request, according to the applications.

ASWSU Senate Pro Tempore Devon Holze said the Senate’s request was lower because Senate Programming also asked for less money.

“We were still able to increase [salaries] while decreasing our overall request because we cut so much from programming,” Holze said. “Some of that money essentially got moved to administration.”

She said the fund for registered student organizations has never come close to running out of money, leading them to ask for less money this year, she said.

“Even though we do get a pretty good amount of funding requests, we just haven’t spent the full amount,” Holze said.

She said the fund has remained tens of thousands of dollars above the amount it needs to fund RSO requests.

However, the group also found ways other than cutting unused programming funds to make a smaller request. Fewer one-time requests, the elimination of the WSU Performing Arts program and the failure of the ASWSU Election Board to submit a budget before deadline all contributed to the lower request, according to the application.

The Election Board will have to ask for funds at a special budget meeting in the fall because it failed to submit a budget, Holze said, but it should not affect how it operates.

“The Election Board doesn’t really do anything at the beginning of the year,” she said. “All of their work pretty much takes place second semester, so as long as they get funded in the fall it shouldn’t have any effect on the elections.”