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Reserve account triggers spending discussions

February 17, 2012

On Feb. 8, the Reserves Projects Ad Hoc (Super) Committee, consisting of members from Student Senate, held a town hall meeting in the Kinni Theater to allow students to share their ideas about how to spend down two reserve accounts currently totaling around $120,000. More than a dozen ideas were put on the table and discussed amongst the nearly 20 people in attendance.

The purpose of the meeting was for the Super Committee to reach out to the student body and hopefully gain some understanding on how to spend the reserves in ways that would benefit the students.

“Rather than just unilaterally decided on behalf of the student body, we as a committee felt that it was best to provide an open forum in which people may submit proposals and pitch ideas that the committee may take and conduct further research upon in order to come up with a proposal to spend down at least 50 percent of the reserve funds,” said Super Committee Chair Ben Blanchard in an email.

Student Senate President Tyler Halverson explained that any money that isn’t used by student organizations, single event funding, Senate, etc., goes into these reserve accounts. This money has been piling up over the last couple years because of some overbudgeting, and it is now crucial that it is spent down to a normal reserve account amount around $40,000.

The biggest problem is that the state is making less and less of a distinction between tuition dollars and student dollars and have been known to raid large pools of money at institutions. Also, if the committee does not find a way to spend down the reserves by at least 50 percent, half of the reserve money will be given to either the office of student life or Falcon Programs to use in whichever ways they see fit.

“I’d rather have money go to students where it came from, than write the state a check,” Halverson said.

Blanchard explained that even though he hoped the turnout of students would have been better as that would have provided the committee with additional ideas that could have proved to be beneficial, there were still some great suggestions made.

The Sports Club opened the meeting explaining that there have been seven or eight new clubs added, but their current budget is only configured for the 10 existing clubs. They asked for $50,000 to alleviate the costs of these new clubs and stressed that without the funding some of the clubs will not be here next year.

A student agricultural organization called SALSA asked for $4,000 to help with some of their start up costs as they became an organization only last semester and are currently receiving single event funding.

One big idea that this organization has is to implement a vegetable garden that would be student operated and would produce food that could be eaten right here on campus.

If awarded some of this reserve money, they would be able to turn this idea that promotes sustainability into a reality.

“We don’t even have money to do anything right now,” stated SALSA President Bethany Gapinski. “Once we have the money we can really corral our people and get stuff going and get a plan in action to actually have a vegetable garden.”

The Rodeo Club proposed $12,000 to put in a permanent food stand at their arena. The food stand would then be able to be used for any event held at the arena and would prove to be profitable for the Rodeo Club, helping them to stay afloat.

Other ideas brought to the attention of chair Blanchard included some money for the Math Club, a campus bar, aluminum water bottles for all new freshmen that promote the sustainability of this campus, campus media upgrades, lighting the back path from the University Center to South Fork Suites, new volleyball poles in Knowles, an inclusivity center, and a napping area.

One idea that is strongly supported by Blanchard is to pave the gravel path between the library and the Agricultural Science building. This path is heavily used by students and with certain weather conditions becomes quite dangerous and could possibly pose liability issues. Halverson noted that this might be something that could be matched by the University where the reserves would then pay for only half of the project as it will most likely be expensive.

All of the proposals and ideas were written down and will be taken into consideration by the Super Committee who will discuss the proposed ideas and pick out the ones that will be most beneficial to students as well as ones that are feasible in doing.

After the committee conducts further research and approves a final proposal, it then goes on to the Allocable Fees Appropriation Board (AFAB) for an up or down vote. If it clears the AFAB, it will be presented to the Senate by mid-April and if they pass it, then it goes to the chancellor for final approval.

If you were unable to attend the meeting, and would like to make a suggestion, contact Ben Blanchard at benjamin.blanchard@my.uwrf.edu before Feb. 21.