OPINION: 2020 Spring Budget: Equitable and fair despite scarcity of funds

By Brendon Wexted Hand | November 26, 2019 7:08pm

Brendon Wexted Hand, ASUP director of finance. Photo courtesy of Brendon Wexted Hand.

The 2020 ASUP Spring Budget is now complete. ASUP’s Financial Management Board (consisting of diverse perspectives on campus with expertise in finance, accounting, economics and past budget development experience) as well as I, the director of finance, were tasked with creating a fair and equitable budget, aimed at emphasizing student-run organizations, while supplementing individual student experiences here at UP. 

This process, however, was no easy task. Our job is to receive all budget requests and to create a budget within the parameters of available funding. This year, the FMB and I have based the funding decisions mostly on quantitative factors such as total active club members, amount of granted funds used/leftover, and member dues, while also considering the qualitative without bias. After working very diligently, meeting with each club and organization that was available, and reviewing the itemized budgets submitted, the FMB and I firmly believe that this is a fair and equitable 2020 ASUP Spring Budget. 

So, why are we reaching out to you now? It is because each year there are budget decisions made, yet no clear understanding of the allocations. Our goal is to be transparent with the budgeting process and reach out to all the students and find an understanding of individual needs that we attempt to meet at our best ability. 

I wanted to shed light on the fact that this year, there was a scarce amount of available funds to be allocated, directly affecting everyone in the budgeting process. In an ideal world, this would be a very easy process, and everyone would receive 100% of their requested budget. After sitting down with each club and organization, it was very clear that all groups were making important contributions and making a difference here at UP. However, the reality of accommodating all of those requests is very different, as we have 106 groups requesting funds, which is seven more than past semesters. We received a requested total budget of $560,114.87, which is the largest request in UP history. However, our total available budget is only $299,700, which is one of the lowest available amounts in UP history. You do the math. This results in one of the largest deductions the FMB and Director of Finance have ever had to make. It’s evident that there’s simply not enough funding to meet everyone's needs, and that this has been no easy task.

Club funding breakdown. Graphic courtesy of Brendon Wexted Hand.

Additionally, since the FMB and I knew that budget cuts were unavoidable at this time, we followed the guidance of UP's history by comparing past budget requested amounts versus granted amounts, and used budget cut protocols in considering things such as: total ASUP student body involvement, overall inclusion, club or organization activity, and the level of effort for further fundraising. We are constantly striving for transparency, systematic capitalization (providing records of an expense or cost through a system of standards) and equity in allocation. It is my greatest hope that each club and organization will reflect on this and recognize that the FMB and I have done our very best to keep our oath of providing a fair and equitable Spring 2020 Budget.

As a side note, knowing that the Student Activities Fee has passed and that there is additional funding because of it, there will be a larger pool of available funds to give to clubs and organizations here on campus, specifically for the student body. There is no way for the FMB and I to determine the specific amount given to each group with this change until we have a better understanding of student enrollment for next semester and other factors. However, I can assure the student body that this increase was meant for the benefit of the UP students, not for ASUP stipends. As I have said before, regardless of the amount of money available to give, it is the responsibility of the FMB and I to allocate funds as equitably as possible while taking into account all 106 groups here on campus asking for funds. Again, the FMB and I firmly believe that this is a fair and equitable 2020 ASUP Spring Budget.

Brendon Wexted Hand is a senior finance major and the ASUP director of finance. He can be reached at asup.finance@up.edu.