Co-op proposes $6 increase in activity fee after organizations appealed budgets

Budget appeals at Thursday’s Co-op Board of Directors Meeting in the Knowlton Board Room created a $64,946 deficit and resulted in a proposal of a $6 raise in Student Activity Fees.

Although a $4 raise in activity fees would generate about $100,000 and cover the deficit, the board agreed that a $6 increase is preferred to allow extra money to distribute in the fall.

The Lively Arts Performing Artist Series – Ovations!, Ideas and Issues and the Student Government Association went before the board to appeal the cuts made to their budgets Thursday.

The combined budgets proposed by the three groups totaled $112,537, which exceeds the $14,000 available to the board by about $98,000.

Hank Knerr, director of the Lively Arts, spoke in defense of both Ovations! and Ideas and Issues.

Ovations! requested a supplemental budget of $35,000 to be added to their awarded $50,000 budget.

Several board members had never heard of the program and had concerns about student involvement and awareness.

“I’ve been here four years, and I’ve never heard of this group,” finance committee Chair Matthew Jones (senior, finance and legal studies) said.

Ovations! presents “the best in performing arts” from “Broadway tours to the best in jazz and classical music to theater and more,” according to the Ovations! page of the IUP website.

Knerr told the board that Ovations! has done everything the finance committee and board have asked and has consistently remained fiscally responsible, ending each year in the black.

“We continue to look at improving on what we have built to date,” Knerr said. “We do want and will seek to increase involvement and find programming that enhances a student’s understanding of the Lively Arts and seek to find those acts which can enlighten as well as entertain.”

Co-op Board member David Piper spoke in favor of Ovations!’s efforts.

Students may not recognize the group by name, but they have certainly heard of the events that Ovations! is running, Piper said.

After discussion, Ovations! was granted the proposed addition of $35,000 to their budget.

Ideas and Issues, a group that brings speakers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, had a proposed budget of $57,087.

Ideas and Issues’ budget was also cut because of a lack of recognition on the part of the finance committee, as well as the belief that the program is a duplication of efforts by the Six O’Clock Series.

Board members also brought up concerns about the expense of speakers, which Knerr admitted have skyrocketed.

The market is not something that can be controlled, Knerr said.

The finance committee was also concerned that Ideas and Innovations’ latest speaker, Billy Jean King, was of no relevance to the students, Knerr said.

“Not knowing somebody does not mean that they are not of significance or relevance,” Knerr said.

The board awarded Ideas and Issues its $27,074 budget, 47 percent of its proposed budget for the 2014-15 year.

SGA proposed a budget of $20,450, which was sent to appeals due to a conflict of interest from SGA members on the finance committee.

Concerns with the SGA budget included food costs, which the board does not generally approve, and the large amount reserved to fund the CollegiateLink software.

“We are trying to find additional sources of funding,” SGA Vice President Zachery Chandler (junior, business education) said. “We do not want it to fall directly on the Co-op, but we do believe, not only for SGA’s sake but for students’ sake in general, that [CollegiateLink] is something that everyone directly benefits from.”

SGA’s budget will be used to help students get involved in activities, which is directly correlated with the Student Activity Fee, Chandler said.

SGA was awarded a $17,200 budget, 84 percent of its proposed budget, with the stipulation that the funds not be used for the leadership banquet or unspecified calendar events.