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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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USG gives updates on student activity fee usage, financial status

Undergraduate Student Government Executive Vice President, Nistha Boghra, at a senate meeting on Sep. 7. USG’s State of Finance speeches were held at this week’s meeting. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

President of Stony Brook University’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Devin Lobosco and Treasurer Amitesh Reddy Akiti gave their State of USG and State of Finance speeches, respectively, during this past week’s Senate meeting.

Lobosco started off his speech by congratulating all of USG for its transition from Campusvine to a different accounting software, Blackbaud, saying it was one of “its biggest undertakings of the academic year.”

While highlighting the achievements and records USG saw this semester, Lobosco acknowledged students’ grievances, highlighting the Student Activity Fee, students’ perception of USG as “heartless administrators” and the funding process.

Last week, USG revealed in an Instagram post that 52.78% of students voted to support the increase of the Student Activity Fee to $106.60; 47.21% opposed. While grateful that a majority of students did favor increasing the fee, Executive Vice President Nistha Boghra said that “it [was] a fair vote.”

“I would have preferred a more solid yes or no, because we will feel that what we’re doing is what students want to see,” Boghra said. “But, because it was so divided, it’s a little tough to try to understand how to best make sure that students know where their money’s going toward and that it’s being used to the best of our ability.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Isaiah Daniel brought up to the Senate that USG should consider livestreaming their meetings on Instagram as a way to make its meetings more accessible to students in the future. They believe that students are more likely to join Instagram livestreams than a Zoom meeting because “it’s right there.” Lobosco explained in the middle of his speech USG needs to work on finding more ways to engage with students, and Daniel’s point was raised after Lobosco’s speech.

As part of his closing remarks to the Senate, Lobosco said, “We need to put that fee to work.”

Akiti’s State of Finance was less formal and allowed open discussion as he explained on-campus trends his office saw. One highlight of the discussion was how many clubs failed to meet the 20% minimum spending requirement of the club line budget by the end of the semester. Although there were clubs that met this requirement, there was still a concerning number that did not. Akiti attributed the cause of this trend to USG’s transition to Blackbaud.

As explained by Akiti, Campusvine had shut down its services to Stony Brook University unexpectedly, forcing USG to move to Blackbaud. As USG was learning how to use Blackbaud, so were clubs.

One problem presented by the new software was that it is not specifically catered toward undergraduate students, whereas Campusvine was.

Efforts to better club experiences with Blackbaud, such as seeing approved or rejected invoices, is a focus for Akiti. Throughout the semester, he has made it a priority to resolve issues with Blackbaud’s customer support team but said it is still a learning experience.

“I will continue to strive toward making things easier for clubs,” Akiti said.

In a long debate regarding the approval of the Revised Fiscal Year 2023-24 Budget, a majority of the Senate motioned the approval of the budget to next week; one senator dissented, and several were not present during the vote. Even though this was supposed to be their final meeting of the semester, the Senate will meet next week to discuss the budget further.

Some concerns regarding the budget were how USG would communicate to the public discrepancies in the spreadsheet. Currently, the Revised Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget and previous years budgets are available on USG’s website as PDFs. But, it may be difficult to clearly portray disclaimers regarding information on the spreadsheet because of the PDF format, according to Akiti.

Another concern is that on the Revised Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget, there are some clubs that received $0 in funding from USG. One club listed that did not receive funding from USG was Blackworld, a media organization dedicated to providing a platform for Black and Latino voices. Although it has existed since 1974, it can confusing for students to see why a club like Blackworld is not receiving funding despite still existing on campus. When asked about why certain clubs were listed despite receiving $0 in funding, Akiti said there are multiple reasons why these clubs received no money that fiscal year.

The reasons provided by Akiti were that some clubs were financially irresponsible or simply did not exist at that time. However, he agreed that there should have been a disclaimer or that the clubs should not have been listed at all.

As explained by Boghra, USG will not see the new amount of funds from the Student Activity Fee until next semester. From there, the Senate will decide on how to allocate the extra money to clubs.

Meeting minutes from this week’s Senate meeting will be posted here within one to two weeks.

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