Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Student Government approved a slight student fee increase of .34% at its meeting Wednesday, and also approved funding levels for student organizations that receive student fees.
The Student Government voted to cut funding to some organizations’ requests, such as the university’s Department of Theater and Dance, and add funding to other organization’s requests such as The Reporter. Other organizations, such as the Green Transportation Fee, saw their requests met in full.
Last year, the Student Activities Fee was $8.94 per credit, and $107.28 per term for anyone taking 12-18 credits in a semester. This has been increased to $8.97 per credit, or $107.64 for anyone taking the 12-18 credit band.
This meeting was the Student Government’s time to deliberate on recommendations posed to them by the Student Allocations Committee, and to decide how much money to allocate to each account funded from student fees.
Before this annual budget-setting meeting the Senate is allowed to invite any accounts/organizations to answer questions referring to their budgets. There is also time allotted for organizations to appeal to the Senate to have their funding changed.
This year, Theatre was the only organization invited for questioning, while Student Events, Campus Recreation Sports, Campus Recreation-Sports club, Maverick Adventures Trip & Travel, Campus Recreation Repair and Replace Fund, and The Reporter.
Theatre asked SAC for $82,000, which was then recommended to the Student Government.
The Theater department has asked for and received the $82,000 for several years, until last year, when their funding was decreased to $68,000 due to their alternate streams of income.
The Student Government voted to reduce the allocation to $68,000, with the reasoning being that they functioned during a COVID-19 year with that allocation with the help of their donation fund.
The Student Events Team requested $115,220, with an allocation recommendation from SAC of $110,000 which was then appealed.
Their appeal was honored by the Student Government, with reasoning from Student Government President Andrew speaking to the unfairness of budget cuts due to the pandemic.
“COVID-19 cuts are bad cuts,” was a repeated slogan from Trenne during the meeting.
Then several Campus Recreation accounts appealed their SAC allocations, with Campus Rec Sports, Campus Rec-Sports club, and Maverick Adventures Trip and Travel all having their appeals approved.
Campus Recreation Repair and Replace did not have their appeal approved, having their $20,000 request lowered to $10,000.
The Reporter’s budget, traditionally a hot button issue, was attacked head on in attempts to prevent further deficit spending which would take from the SAF reserve fund.
The request made from the Reporter was for 90% of its two state employees’ salaries covered by the fee funding. This would be an increase from last year’s funding of $66,637 to $114,910. SAC decreased the program’s funding to $95,000 in its recommendation, which was appealed.
Trenne put forward a motion that would fund the Reporter’s two state salaries fully, increasing funding to $129,100, with stipulations that the Student Government would receive budgeting updates as well as tools to prevent further deficit spending. This motion was passed by the Student Government.
The topic of the Veteran Service Programming from the Veteran’s Center offered debate over funding being the SAC recommended $5,000 or the program request of $6,000. The Student Government voted to fund the full program request.
Finally, there was a contentious debate over the issue of reopening discussion for the funding allocated to Theater. After several roll call votes to reopen discussion, it was not reopened, and the funding remained at $68,000.
The budget approved by the Student Government still needs approval from the President’s office, with University President Davenport having the final say. The budget is rarely changed at that level.