SGA reveals budget to The Duke

By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke

The Student Government Association received $84,217 from the University for the 2014 fiscal year, but SGA members refused to reveal which organizations received portions of that money.

According to the budget that SGA Vice President of Finance Niko Kouknas shared with The Duke, the SGA budget funds various campus activities.

The largest expense is the loop bus. SGA President Attila Mihalik said the SGA is responsible for paying one-third of all loop bus related expenses, which amounts to $29,695.

The second largest expense is conference appropriations, according to Kouknas. This year, the SGA determined $20,000 would be spent on student organization conferences ($10,000 per semester). Kouknas declined to specify how much each student organization received.

The head of the College Republicans raised questions about SGA funding last semester.

“Out of fairness to student organizations, SGA does not publicize how much money each student organization is appropriated,” Kouknas said.

The University supervises all SGA budget decisions, Kouknas said.

Kouknas said many factors contribute to deciding how much money student organizations receive for their conferences, which range up to $800.

Factors include how much money the organization has, its fundraising efforts, whether or not the club collects dues and efforts to seek funding from the school.

Kouknas said appropriations are an “intricate process,” and that he felt the SGA Finance Committee did a “great job” in making honest decisions.

“What would be unfair is if we gave all organizations that applied for funding the same amount, even those who fundraised for their conference and those that did not,” Kouknas said. “The same would apply if we gave the same amount of money to an organization that may have $10,000 in their bank account and also to another that only had $50 in their bank account.”

Kouknas said there is no opportunity for conflict of interest that taints the appropriations process. Any SGA members that are also involved in student organizations requesting funding are not eligible to be in the room while the Finance Committee discusses appropriations for that club. They also must abstain from voting.

Any student organization wishing to receive conference funding must follow an appropriations process which can be found in the appropriations packet available on CampusLink, Kouknas said.

In addition, Kouknas said student organizations must register with the Center for Student Involvement, plan fundraisers and request fundraising from their school or department.

According to the budget, the SGA spends nearly $5,000 on itself. This money funds the end of term meeting, telephone costs and voicemail (the University charges a monthly fee for the SGA office’s telephone and voicemail usage), office operations, postage and recruitment.

The rest of the money in the budget goes toward other various campus events and activities.

For the first time in four years, seven SGA members will be attending a leadership conference this spring. The conference will cost approximately $5,000 and it will be paid for with money SGA fundraised by selling advertisements in the freshman planners and University directory. SGA will not use any budget money for this trip.

Kouknas said the amount of the budget SGA spends on itself is “reasonable” because they delegate 94 percent of their budget to campus activities.

The SGA Finance Committee, which is open to all government members, is responsible for determining how the budget will be appropriated, according to Kouknas. Once the committee decides on appropriations, they are reviewed and voted on by the SGA Senate.

Kouknas said any SGA members interested in determining appropriations are expected to make “informed and unbiased decisions in regards to making appropriations.”

“I personally believe that all the members of SGA are non-partisan in their decision making and do their best in appropriating funds as fairly and equally as possible,” Kouknas said.