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Senate to spend reserve funds

April 14, 2011

The Student Senate reserve fund currently boasts a total of approximately $110,000, which is technically subject to a UW-System raid.

During the 2009-2010 school year, the UW-System raided the UW-River Falls HHP Building Fund. The raid took $2 million from the fund, said Allocable Fee Appropriation Board Chairman Jordan Harshman.

“It begs the question, why are we collecting money from students if we are not using it,” Harshman said.

The purpose of the reserve fund is to catch the remaining budgetary money that goes unused by Student Senate and student organizations as distributed by AFAB. The amount leftover from the AFAB budget changes from year to year, but is generally about $13,000 to $14,000 that is returned to the reserve fund, Harshman said.

“A large amount comes from Student Senate’s lack of events.  They use about $2,000 to $3,000 each year,” Harshman said.

The Student Senate’s operational budget is set at $3.25 per student per year, which works out to approximately $22,000 annually.  Last year, the reserve fund had approximately $140,000, said Harshman.

Money in the reserve fund can be used for different things, said President-elect Tyler Halverson.

“We recently opened it up for capital purchasing, including a new set for “Focus on U,” equipment for sports teams or funding for student trips,” Halverson said.  “If something comes up that’s not in the operational budget, we look to the reserve fund.”

There are limitations to the way the reserve fund money can be spent, Harshman said.

“The reserve fund cannot be accessed by student organizations that have already been granted money through single events or the AFAB budget,” he said.

One of the most recent reserve fund purchases was OrgSync, an online tool for student organizations, which was unveiled this fall with a three-year subscription costing $25,000, Harshman said.

Student Senate saw a 45-minute webinar from the CEO of OrgSync at a meeting in the fall of 2009.  The Senate voted to purchase it later that night. 

Since that purchase, the Senate has introduced a new rule where legislation on big purchase decisions need to be sat on for an introductory period of two weeks, Harshman said.

“We didn’t have enough time to talk about it,” Harshman said.  “In hindsight, it worked out well and got a lot of good feedback.  It also needs to be approved by AFAB as it is accessed though student allocable fees.”

Student Senate has no immediate plans in place for the reserve fund, but they do hope to spend a good chunk of it, Halverson said.

“We have some general ideas for campus beautification, but basically anything directly related to the students,” Student Senate President Jason Keck said.

The student money should go back to the students because senate wants to help out the students in any way possible, Keck said.

“We need to work on student involvement and opinion. It’s something we really care about, but it’s the hardest thing to collect,” Keck said.

The specifics for the reserve fund spending will be crafted over the summer for the 2011-2012 academic year because the state can come in whenever it wants to take the money, Halverson said.

“I want to hear from people.  It’s what I campaigned on and what I plan to do,” Halverson said.

Student Life personnel have asked Student Senate to contribute to staffing Freddy Falcon, which would include those serving as Freddy and the handlers and mascot training, Halverson said.

The reserve fund could also be used to encourage student involvement, and perhaps fund an advertising campaign for sporting events and festivals.  Student Senate is also considering acting as co-sponsors for various events, Halverson said.

“Spending the money in proactive and intelligent ways is important.  We’ve paid into it and we need to make sure it stays on campus,” Halverson said.