Hallie Lauer | news editor
Duquesne’s Student Government Association (SGA) released their fiscal year 2020 budget and strategic plan to The Duke.
This budget compares last year’s budget in all areas of SGA spending.
Organizations at the university have seen an overall budget cut. For fiscal year 2020, the SGA’s total budget is $63,658, which is down 13.9% from last year according to SGA President Charlie Megginson. The budget pitch for this year was titled “Doing More With Less,” as a nod to the cuts, but also a promise to the students.
“This cut is significant to us, because we have one of the smaller budgets on campus,” Megginson said. “We had to figure out where we could effectively spend what we had left on students. I’m really excited about this budget because we can engage with students and do just as good a job or better with less money.”
Megginson along with SGA Executive Vice President of Finance Josh Rodes, looked at the budget from the last five years “to see where money could be better spent,” said Megginson.
To do that, SGA voted to cut areas of spending that did not directly influence the student body. In 2019, SGA had budgeted $1,350 for the Faculty Appreciation breakfast. This year, they budgeted zero.
“Obviously the faculty knows we appreciate them,” Megginson said. “I couldn’t justify spending [the money] not on students.”
They also cut back on areas like Executive Contingency and Senate Contingency. These areas are money budgeted for the Exec board and the Senate to spend without prior authorization.
Areas where they increased spending are tabling events and town hall meetings, both of which are designed for student engagement, as well as the Night of Lights.
“Night of Lights is our biggest philanthropic event,” Megginson said. “We want to go big with that.”
In 2019, SGA budgeted about $2,500 for the event; this year they raised that to $4,500 —an 80% increase.
However, the biggest part of the SGA budget still goes to the Loop Bus.
“Previously, that was budgeted incorrectly. They budgeted $30,000 and then reported going $6,000 over budget. This year we accurately budgeted for that expense,” Megginson said as an explanation for the $6,000 increase in the Loop Bus price.
SGA pays only one-third of the price of the Loop Bus, while the Office of Student Life pays the other two-thirds.
The idea of “doing more with less” also includes doing more for the students.
“We feel SGA in the past has spent a lot of money on itself, rather than for the benefit of the student body,” Megginson said.
Megginson said that SGA plans to cut institutional money spent on dinners, as well as combining the SGA awards and the SGA end of the year banquet. In 2019, nearly $3,000 was budgeted for those two events, this year only $1,500
In prior years, SGA had been hesitant to release their budget to The Duke.
“It was politicized, and in politics there is the idea of politics and media being at ends. SGA is incorrectly named,” Megginson said. “We aren’t governing anybody. We are de-politicizing.”
These sentiments are echoed in the 2020 Strategic Plan: Building a bridge to a better tomorrow. SGA also is looking to “repair relationships with organizations on campus who have felt disenfranchised by the Student Government in the past.”
In the Strategic Plan, Megginson also recognizes that “a proper strategic plan cannot possibly be developed and implemented in short year. I’ve created what I believe to be a realistic and measured foundation for future student leaders to build on and evolve.”
SGA is also in the works of creating an online student feedback portal.
In addition, The Duke will be running a side column after each SGA meeting, outlining what was discussed, the next meeting will be Sunday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. in room 203 of the law school.