Activities & Organizations News

SGA requests less funds from SFAC, suggests others follow suit


Student Government Association Chief of Staff Robert Comer helps present SGA’s funding requests to the Student Fees Advisory Committee. SGA has set a two-year precedent for finding ways to decrease their funding requests. | Jasmine Davis/The Cougar

In Fall 2015’s Student Fees Advisory Committee unit presentations, then-Student Government Association President Shaun Theriot-Smith set a precedent by requesting less SFAC funding.

During Tuesday afternoon’s SFAC presentations, SGA President Shane Smith declared the 53rd Administration’s intention to do it again.

“We have done this two years in a row,” Smith said. “It’s in the best interest of the students, and that is our commitment.”

For fiscal year 2017, which encompasses the current academic year, SGA had requested a base funding reduction of nearly $4,900. Going into FY 2018, SGA has requested a base augmentation that will again decrease their SFAC funding by $3,700.

“This represents, in terms of our controllable budget, about 10 percent,” Smith said. “We’re really hoping to kind of set the tone with that.”

If SFAC approved the requests, SGA’s budget for the upcoming year will mark the lowest-approved amount of SFAC funding to the organization since FY 2014, totaling at $150,452.

“I want to suggest a 1 percent decrease to all units,” Smith said. “We feel that we are voluntarily doing our part, and I believe that all units can be slightly more efficient.”

Theoretically, if all SFAC-funded units decreased their funding by 1 percent, the total available funds would increase by $215,000, Smith said. While this wouldn’t be possible, he said such a reduction would be a beneficial goal to strive for.

“I wouldn’t ask anybody to do anything that we couldn’t do ourselves, and so we have done this two years in a row,” Smith said.

Small reductions are necessary to avoid large fee increases for students, Smith said. From FY 2016 to FY 2017 alone, the student services fee was increased by $5.

“One of the best things that we can do to fulfill our core mission as a University is to be affordable,” Smith said. “I think it starts with things like this.”

One way SGA has been able to cut costs, Smith said, was through the elimination of the associate director of marketing position, which was viewed as unnecessary as SGA has a similarly paid position for public relations.

For the remainder of this year and in FY 2018, SGA is working toward improvements in on-campus dining, increasing the engagement and inclusion of transfer and international students at UH and, potentially, pushing for the use of open-source textbooks that could save students thousands of dollars.

“The University brought in outside consultants this year to kind of analyze their relationship with Aramark, the services that Aramark provides, so there are some key changes coming there,” Smith said.

One change in particular, he said, would involve the meal plans. Though it isn’t yet known what these updates will entail, Smith said they will look at any long-term impact on students when making decisions.

“I’m really excited about some of the progress that we’ve already made,” Smith said. “I feel like we’re having a really productive year, and I feel like we have a chance to really finish strong in these next five months or so.”

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