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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 finalizes revised 2023-24 fiscal budget, discusses student concerns

The Undergraduate Student Government Senate council in a meeting on Sept. 7. During their last meeting, USG motioned to approve the Revised Fiscal 2023-24 Budget. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

On Dec. 14, Stony Brook University’s Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) Senate motioned to approve the Revised Fiscal Year 2023-24 Budget during its last meeting of the fall 2023 semester.

The budget, which is approved every year, shows how much money each club and organization receives from USG. The budget revisions are not set to be public until Rick Gatteau, Stony Brook’s Vice President of Student Affairs, gives his approval per SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr.’s guidelines. The budget spreadsheet is estimated to be public by the end of the year.

As previously reported, the Senate had expressed concerns about communicating information about the budget to students. USG’s Treasurer, Amitesh Reddy Akiti, said his office is preparing to release a disclaimer upon publication of the fall budget revisions that he hopes will help students further understand the contents of the budget.

The disclaimer contains information about certain discrepancies present on the spreadsheet originating from additional budget items like grants being added mid-year, as well as issues with how Blackbaud, the accounting software used by USG, displays specific items.

“This is a disclaimer I prepared to immediately go onto the website as soon as the budget is updated,” Akiti said. The exact wording of the disclaimer is still under review.

In addition to the disclaimer, Akiti’s office is preparing the release of a document containing basic information on how to understand the budget spreadsheet.

“My plan is to make a document with more of the basic information on how each specific line is, what it exactly means, how are the funds being used for it, just again general ideas, nothing too crazy, nothing too detailed, but just so that it is properly open to all undergraduate students in the sense that they can understand exactly where it’s going rather than just seeing numbers,” Akiti said. “I plan to add [the document] later, but [the disclaimer] is just immediately in session for now.”

One point of contention among the Senate was how necessary they felt it was to explain the ins and outs of the budget spreadsheet in-depth.

At-large Senator Yuchen Zhang brought up some of the difficulties that a document breaking down the spreadsheet could have.

“If we were to write every single allocation that every single club got for the entire [semester], […] that data would be such a pain to gather,” Zhang said. “And number two is that even if we see the details, it will be pages and pages and pages long.”

Christine Marullo, Director of Student Engagement and Activities, pointed out that students were struggling to understand why “big chunks of budget allocations” were going to places that were not necessarily student clubs.

Marullo is referring to a memorandum of understanding (MOU), an agreement that certain organizations have with USG that allows them to recessive funding from USG without being under the same requirements as a normal club on the line budget. This agreement exists because certain organizations cannot abide by all of the policies that are set in place by USG for having a line budget.

For example, The Statesman is considered to be a MOU because as a newspaper, it provides a service to the student body. However, it would not be able to maintain editorial independence from USG if it had to follow the same restrictions as all other clubs on a line budget. Therefore, The Statesman receives designation as an MOU.

“Everything matters, but particularly where there are sizable amounts of money, it’s not as easy [to understand like],‘’Oh, that’s a club budget,”” Marullo added.

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

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