SGA approves 2021-2022 school year budget. Collegian file photo.
EMMA CHAMLEY | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Butler’s Student Government Association, SGA, approves their total budget for the 2021-22 school year of $325,000. This total will be broken down between the three SGA branches with $185,000 going to the Executive branch, $125,000 to the legislative branch, and $15,000 going towards the Judicial Board.
The Senate officially voted on this year’s budget at their meeting Sept. 22, a process they complete annually at the beginning of the academic year. The $325,000 SGA budget comes completely out of the student activities fee that students have to pay every year.
However, SGA’s budget is something many students on campus are unfamiliar with. Even though many of SGA’s initiatives work to give students more resources on campus, students cannot always access those resources because they do not know they exist.
Senior English major, Anna Petr, said she does not know where all of the money from the SGA budget goes.
“It’s a very large budget,” Petr said. “[They are] not 100% transparent about what their money goes towards … I couldn’t tell you a single thing about their current priorities, what they want funded, where they’re looking to build. They tend to keep some secrets.”
Joe Marra, senior sports media and marketing major, also said that the SGA budget seems large and that he does not understand what the organization is responsible for.
“[Students] know that SGA is a thing, but we don’t know what goes on,” said Marra.
Miki Kawahara, SGA vice president and senior health sciences major, said each student ends up contributing around $83 to the SGA fund. Kawahara broke down the budget line by line, explaining that the two biggest line items are $70,000 for organizational salaries and wages, and $45,000 for transportation, which includes free Ubers around Indianapolis to places like the St. Vincent Stress Center — a program that SGA is still working with Uber to complete.
Kawahara said once the Uber program is finalized, students will get an email with a link to use. The SGA budget also includes $3,000 for the Student Readership Program, which pays for New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other subscription reader services that students can get for free if they sign up for an account using their Butler email address.
Of the $70,000 allocated for wages, SGA’s president, speaker of the senate, and chief justice each get paid $5,000 for the entire academic year. The vice president receives $4,500, the executive chief of staff receives $4,000 and each Senator receives $250.
Chandler Hart, junior sports media major, said he was surprised by the amount of money those in SGA positions receive.
“I mean that sounds a little unreasonable based on the fact that I’ve never heard of that,” Hart said.
Kawahara explained that, in her opinion, compensation expands the pool of potential SGA applicants.
“In a way, if it’s an unpaid position you’re limiting access to who has the ability to run for leadership roles,” Kawahara said.
According to Kawahara, many Butler students do not know that SGA members get paid, something she hopes to change.
“I had no idea we got paid until I was already in the Senate,” Kawahara said. “I know I promoted it this year, that it’s a paid position, because I think it allows for more people to get involved with the organization. We have a really hard time attracting people in the first place, the Senate isn’t even full yet, we still have open positions. I think it’s a great way to attract people to student government.”
Nora Rehnor, first-year exploratory major, expressed her confusion with SGA member’s salaries.
“They’re basically just in the student council,” said Rehnor. “And it’s such a good resume booster it doesn’t make sense that they get paid that much. There’s plenty of clubs on campus that don’t get paid, and they should be using that money to pay for other things, like more mental health initiatives.”
But paying SGA members isn’t the only thing in SGA’s budget. The legislative branch will receive $100,000 to give student activity groups grants. Kawahara explained that any club or student group can apply for a grant under four different categories: Service and Philanthropy, Diversity and Inclusion, a General Grant or a Green Initiative Fund grant.
To receive money from SGA, clubs must apply, explain what the grant would be used for, and the Senate votes to determine whether or not to give the club the grant. For example, at the SGA meeting last Wednesday, the Senate approved a diversity and inclusion grant to the LGBTQIA Alliance for a drag show this year.
The budget also includes $15,000 for Yearbook, something Kawahara said SGA was hoping to bring back this year, after it was removed during spring semester 2020 due to the pandemic.
Hart said he has not been aware of SGA’s real impact on campus, or seen any evidence of the amount of money they spend.
“I feel like…. for the money they are getting, I have not heard of anything that they’ve done,” Hart said. “Okay, I literally can’t name one thing that SGA has done.”
Co-Opinion Editor Katie Freeman contributed to this story.