Senate Slashes Budget

Gin Dumcius

Facing a $44,000 shortfall in the Student Activities Trust Fund, the Student Senate is cutting positions in the Harbor Art Gallery, student centers, scaling back money for some services, and creating a new position for themselves, according to a rough draft of the 2003-2004 Undergraduate Student Government Budget.

The Student Senate, the Watermark, UMass Boston’s premier literary magazine, the Office of Student Life, and others come out relatively unscathed, but some sections of the fourth floor of Wheatley aren’t so lucky.

The student trustee’s office takes a hit of $3,200, with the trustee discretionary hit hardest, to the tune of $3,000.

Payroll comes next, with the current 18 student staff of the centers, like the Women’s Center, Casa Latina, the Black Student Center, being reduced to nine, and the elimination of the position of “Harbor Art Gallery Sitter.” The gallery sitter is a monitor of sorts, allowing people to come and see the works displayed in the Harbor Art Gallery, located on the first floor of the McCormack building. One position has also been eliminated from the Student Arts and Events Council. There is talk of cutting some assistant center coordinators as well.

“If you reduce by one the number of students who work at a student center, that could adversely affect how many hours a week the center is open. You cut a fifteen-hour-a-week work study position, and you don’t have anyone to make up those fifteen hours, that’s fifteen hours less during the week that each center is there for students to find out information, make friends, hang out in, and all that stuff,” said Associate Director of Student Life Donna Neal, after the Senate took a vote not to increase the student activities fee 20% in early February, in order to cover the $44,000 deficit in the student activities trust fund. The deficit was a result of the university switching from a 2-tier system of paying fees (where fees were paid on a part-time and full-time student basis) to a more “proportional” system, where students are charged an average per credit fee.

The Student Senate’s position of network administrator is to be split in two, as is the budget for it, with $6,000 going to the network administrator and $4,000 to a senate secretary. Skye Rhyddyd currently holds the position of network administrator.

A thousand dollars is cut from the Undergraduate Honors Program, in effect eliminating the line item. According to the UMB website, the Honors Program “encourages academic excellence by bringing its members into intimate contact with like-minded fellow-students and concerned, enthusiastic faculty members.”

The three-page budget is a rough draft, and still has to go through the whole Student Senate, then back to the Budget and Finance Committee, before coming back to the Student Senate for final approval.