The semester is ending in a few weeks, which means club leaders have submitted their budgets and are receiving allocations from the Student Government Association (SGA). Most of this is done during the Budget Extravaganza, a day-long event where club leaders present their budgets to the SGA. After this year’s Budget Extravaganza, some club leaders have expressed concerns and frustrations regarding SGA’s protocols.
Caitlin Kavulick, president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and public relations officer for the College Republicans Committee (CRC), said these clubs received budget cuts for next semester because they handed in their budgets late.
“SAAC’s budget was less than an hour late and College Republicans’ was a couple of days late. SAAC will receive a 10% budget cut for our first short-term budget for the fall semester. Typically, we would have gotten a 20% budget cut for the entire long-term budget, but our long-term was $0,” Kavulick said.
According to Kavulick, CRC’s treasurer was new to the executive board at the time budget requests were due and was not able to go to the Transition Seminar last semester. Therefore, they did not know how to create or submit the request.
“CRC also did not receive the reminder emails because the wrong people were thought to be the president and the advisor. There was a miscommunication, and it made the CRC budget late,” Kauvlick said.
SGA does state that submitting late budget requests, regardless of the severity of lateness, can result in budget cuts. However, students such as Kavulick feel these guidelines are followed unfairly strictly.
To understand these protocols, The Insider spoke with Robert Miller, SGA treasurer, who explained the process.
Miller said that the students of the government do not make budget cuts; they only report back to Al Thiel, director of the student center and student involvement and SGA’s faculty advisor, when they receive requests.
“When we get our allocations from the University, and from the activities fees, we set out a certain amount of money that we want to have just in case there are expenses that come up,” Miller said. “Me and Al sit down and Al gives me the ‘magic number.’ It’s a certain percentage of what we get of the activities fees. We take that amount specifically for the short term and decide, based on what’s left over, what can be used for those long-term budget plans and requests.”
The Budget Extravaganza is held each spring and club leaders are required to attend and present their short and long-term budgets to SGA and explain their reasoning for each request. Miller said this helps clubs avoid the possibility of realizing they do not have enough money for necessary events in the middle of the semester.
“The Budget Extravaganza also helps the Student Government decide whether the trip or event is educational and purposeful. It gives clubs their time to fully describe their idea behind their event,” Miller said.
Other clubs have expressed frustration with the SGA’s requirements for the House of Representatives. Each club is required to have a House Representative that attends the SGA House meetings monthly. Missing House meetings may result in budget cuts for the following academic year.
The SGA also requires that each House Representative only represent one club. Previously, House Representatives thought they could represent more than one club during the meetings. However, this was not true, and SGA has begun enforcing the rule. Some club leaders said this places undue stress on their organizations.
Melissa Crookston, speaker of the House of Representatives, says the main goal of the House meetings is to get more students involved in the organizations on campus. Crookston said the rule regarding the number of clubs a House Representative may represent is to help clubs maintain their executive boards.
“There tend to be a set amount of people on campus who take on a ton of different roles on campus and are on many club executive boards. It is fantastic that they can do so,” Crookston said. “However, once they graduate, finding students to follow in their footsteps becomes difficult.”
Additionally, Crookston said the stress of representing multiple clubs can weigh on students and the SGA. Having one student provide information for multiple clubs at a time can be confusing for both parties as well.
“It can get complicated. Sometimes, I do allow someone to represent two clubs at a meeting if at the last minute something comes up, such as a family issue, technical problems, work, etc.,” Crookston said. “I try to be as flexible as possible. I always say that if a club is struggling to let me know so I can do my absolute best to not only support them but to find a way for them to meet the requirement.”
John Kerlicker, president of SGA and graduating senior, believes the SGA House meetings play an important role for the Pitt-Greensburg community, too. Kerlicker said House representative meetings provide the rest of the campus updates on events and a means for the SGA to communicate those ideas effectively.
“I think the clubs gain a sense of ownership through these roles. This is important because it shows how active we are as a student body, and I think some people forgot about how busy it gets during a normal school year because we haven’t been able to do as much with most things being online,” Kerlicker said. “I think sometimes we take Pitt-Greensburg for granted for how small it is with the fact that we are pretty busy and stay consistent with that activity.”
Kerlicker also wants students to know that SGA is there ultimately to help, not hurt, student organizations, and they are always open to suggestions.
“I want students to know that if they do need something, or really want something to be added or changed, they can reach out to anyone in SGA, including Al. I think students forget they have a voice because they are one person, but there’s SGA that can do that,” Kerlicker said. “That’s their whole purpose, to bridge that gap between students and faculty, staff, the residence office, and the rest of the community.”
Kerlicker enjoys all the changes he’s been able to contribute to and initiate as president because all the projects have received strong support and positive feedback. This year, they have funded enough money to order more water bottle fountain stations to place around campus. They are also adding swipe ID detectors for all buildings to replace the computers and keys.
Overall, Kerlicker is proud of SGA’s achievements this academic year and is grateful to have the opportunity to lead the organization.
“I want to say thank you to everyone. It meant a lot and was a big deal for me to be president of SGA for two years, especially the first time. I never expected it. I appreciate it and all of the support I’ve received over my four years at UPG,” Kerlicker said.