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ISSUE 119 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/2/2005

Fiscal prudence

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, December 2, 2005

The Student Government Association (SGA) budget has again become a central issue on campus. As many students will recall, SGA discovered a budget surplus of approximately $100,000 at the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year. According to SGA Vice President Rachel Erickson '06, the surplus was used to cover the 2004-2005 costs of the Collegiate Readership Program ($10,000), to fund the creation of an ice rink near Ytterboe Hall ($15,000) and to promote the efforts of STOGROW ($6,400), as well as to provide additional funding to several other student organizations. SGA also used $55,000 from the surplus to pay back the voluntary 10 percent budget cut it took during the college's 2003-2004 budget deficit.

The discovery of a budget surplus was valuable, but these initiatives – however beneficial to students – are expensive. While we understand the desire of SGA to spend the available funds in its budget, we think it is important to keep the future in mind as well. Consider the question: What can both Senate, and especially student organizations funded by SGA, do to ensure financial stability for not only the rest of this school year, but also for years to come? We would like to offer two specific suggestions.

Our first suggestion is for student organizations to spend wisely. Use available funds to address the needs of the organization and update materials and equipment, but refrain from amassing large amounts of debt. While it may seem like common sense to watch expenses and operate within a set budget, this behavior takes on considerable importance given the rollover budget system.

Specifically, if a particular group finishes the year $1,000 under budget, these funds are transferred to the next year and the organization would start $1,000 ahead during next year. Student organizations should remain mindful of their present financial concerns, but remember that it can be quite helpful for incoming leadership to have some extra money at the beginning of the year. For example, even an extra $100 can help groups with fundraising and promotions.

Our second suggestion is that the leaders of SGA-funded student organizations should make a conscious effort to ensure their groups lasting financial stability. Specifically, we propose that student organizations, including the Manitou Messenger, place five percent of their budget into a "future fund" during each fiscal year.

This program requires a strong commitment from the leaders of student organizations in their financial planning and would demonstrate a concerted effort to plan for the future. Student organizations should work to ensure that initiatives funded by Senate can continue.

Many of us have had our experiences at St. Olaf enriched by participation in student organizations. Our four years on the Hill are spent not only studying, but also working to advance causes about which we are passionate. St. Olaf calls us to pursue "lives of worth and service" and extracurricular participation is an integral part of that pursuit. We should not only make the most of our time here, but also preserve the campus and its assets. Let's work together to ensure financial stability so future students can enjoy all of the benefits of the St. Olaf experience.

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