Student Government spend over 10 hours discussing Student Activities Fee budget

A $2.77 million allocation was recommended by the Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Student Government last night, after over 10 hours of chaos and deliberation. 

Main items that were discussed at the meeting included increasing pay for student leaders, referendum, and difficult cuts inflicted on different organizations. During the meeting, a level of scrutiny was levied by the executive team to the senators in an attempt to keep the senators in order.

The meeting began with the senate questioning several invited speakers, including Music Ensembles, Theatre, and The Reporter. 

After the recommended allocation from the Student Allocations Committee, the Student Events Team and Student Government chose to appeal and ask for more money, citing the inadequate pay of their student leaders. 

A main directive of the current Student Government executive team has been addressing the pay of student leaders, stating that the stipends that many of them receive is not adequate when it comes to the time worked in those positions. 

Tyler Pickel, the president of the Student Events Team, spoke to the pay of student leaders in his organization. 

“The ability to make an impact as well as remain a student is becoming increasingly difficult without adequate support,” said Pickel. 

Student Government President Reauna Stiff and Vice President Kara Svercl appealed to the senate, asking for money to better compensate the executive team for the Student Government in the future. 

During their appeal, the senate was inquisitive of the increase, noting no pay for the senators. 

In addition to those, other organizations that appealed included Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Activities Administration, and Campus Recreation. 

Fraternity and Sorority Life had one third of their request cut in SAC’s recommendation, referring to a decrease in recruitment and a national trend of Greek Life funding from the university level. 

At the beginning of the meeting, Speaker Minahil Khan introduced the senate’s ability to caucus, a process that involved clearing the viewing gallery, and making the senate discussion private. 

The caucus was instituted twice during the meeting, with the second time lasting nearly 40 minutes. 

“Caucuses are executive sessions that remain a power that a lot of legislative bodies use to make sure that their decisions are most efficient,” said Svercl, referring to the decision to use the caucus at the meeting. 

While the caucus is not often used in meetings, Svercl defended its use, stating that the senate could discuss with more efficiency. 

”We may not have used caucuses but we’ve always used recesses to be able to efficiently talk in a less formal manner so that we can clear things up quicker,” said Svercl. “This year we just have gone with the method of using caucus.”

Trenton Sax, a former member of the Student Allocations Committee, tuned into the meeting via livestream due to attending MSU completely remote. Sax was skeptical of the senate’s usage of the caucus, citing the lack of transparency. 

“I am extremely upset and disturbed by this year’s Student Government budget meeting as a current student,” Sax said. 

Sax mentioned that this year is an important year, as their recommendation from SAC would require a referendum to the students, due to an increase of over 2%. 

“I believe out of my 4 full years at the university, at least the last 3 SAC have recommended an increase of under 2%, with the exception of last year when they recommended a decrease,” said Sax. “So this is a big deal.”

After the second caucus, the senate began deliberations and voting on their recommendation for funding of each organization. 

As per the executive team’s priority of student compensation, the Student Government voted to raise the funding of each organization asking for more funding for student pay. 
Student Government, one of the aforementioned groups, voted to give themselves an increase of the appealed amount from $117,243 to the requested $124,481, with an addition of $6,000 with the intention of creating wages for senators, as well as increase the executive team pay. The final amount allocated to the Student Government was $130,481. 

Maverick Involvement Team, as well as Student Events Team also had their funding increased in order to better pay students. 

A hot button issue of last night’s budget deliberations was that of keeping senators in order. 

At the beginning of the meeting, Speaker Khan instituted a rule that if any given senator was deemed out of order by the speaker more than three times, they would be asked to leave the meeting. 

Senator Abi Saha received more than three out of order notices from the speaker. However, after a discussion of roughly 30 minutes, it was decided that he would not be asked to leave, as many other senators were also out of order. 

At the end of the day, the budget recommendation from the senate results in an increase of 4.6%, which requires the fee to be moved to a referendum from the student body as a whole. 

In the event that this referendum does not pass by student body vote, the senate voted on a backup that would involve dipping into the fee’s reserves in order to bring down the fee increase below 2%. This backup budget would result in a 1.9% increase to the fee.

Header Photo: Student Government Vice President Kara Svercl holding a sign advocating for student wages. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Maxwell Mayleben at Maxwell.Mayleben@mnsu.edu

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