Student organizations given more funding by budget committee

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The Student Services Budget Committee approved new allocations of money from student fees to five University organizations who displayed particular needs, the committee’s former chairwoman said.

Former Student Government Vice President Muneezeh Kabir, who chaired the committee, said the nine-member group of students and faculty reviewed budget requests last year from 17 university centers, offices and programs vying for added funding, Kabir said. She said the committee decided to use money from the SSBC’s reserved funding to support programs that seemed most beneficial to the University and those in most need of financial assistance.

“People would come and give detailed presentations about how their programs contributed to the University and why they needed funding,” Kabir said. “I would say that recommendations were reflective of who we felt needed our funding most.”

The committee will distribute funding to the Gender and Sexuality Center, the Forensics Program, the Counseling and Mental Health Center, the shuttle bus system and the Office of Student Financial Services’ Bevonomics program, Kabir said. She said funding will be distributed Sept. 1 — the beginning of the fiscal year.

The SSBC distributes about $42 million in student fees each year. Funding to all other organizations SSBC allocates student fees to retained their previous funding levels. Groups include the Campus Environmental Center, Texas Student Media and Student Government.

Once the committee finalized its recommendations, it submitted them to Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez for approval, which he gave in May. The recommendation became official last week.

Gender and Sexuality Center Director Ixchel Rosal said the funding from student fees have been the only source of income to run the center and expand it. She said she went before the committee last spring to ask for their continued support.

“I shared with them our current budget, talked about trends and things that we were noticing in the new space. They helped us get at the new Student Activities Center,” Rosal said.

Rosal said the center will receive $10,000 from the SSBC to be distributed in two increments at the beginning of each of the next two fiscal years. She said the center has seen an increase in student traffic, and the money will help hire student workers to help incoming students.

Jane Morgan Bost, associate director for the Counseling and Mental Health Center, said the center has received an increased number of visitors since an on-campus shooting Sept. 28. She said the center asked the council for funds to be able to handle more students.

“The funding will help us hire more workers to help students find the help they need through a system called triaging,” Bost said. “Through the system, we do a quick assessment of students who walk in here, find out what it is that they need and explain to them what we offer.”

Many students go to the center needing long-term counseling, while the center offers sessions that are meant to council students that need immediate assistance but do not require continuous sessions, Bost said.

She said the triage system cuts down on waiting time and prevents students from having to talk to multiple people before they find the assistance they need.

Gonzalez said some years the University does not have funds to add to the SSBC reserves. He said the recommendations from the SSBC were well thought out and did not require too much spending on their behalf.

Gonzalez said before approving the recommendations he consulted with his Associate Vice President Donna Bellinghausen and spoke with representatives of a number of organizations that will receive the money.

“I made no changes but had several considerations to address before I made the final approval,” Gonzalez said.
Kabir said Gonzalez was not able to approve the committee’s request for a 10th member.