ASI Board of Directors discuss upcoming budget through Zoom

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the university’s subsequent move to virtual-only instruction for the rest of the semester, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors met on March 19 through the video conferencing platform, Zoom, to continue the board’s duties.

This included discussing the proposed ASI budget for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year as well as approving previously recommended code changes to the Basic Needs Committee, the Facilities and Operations Committee and the ASI Cabinet. 

ASI Vice President Rachel Hunter, a fourth-year political science student, explained the reason for continuing with board meetings, saying that the board’s deliberation concerning next year’s budget is “a necessary process that sets up the next year, and is essential to the continuation of the programs and services that we run for the students.”

Director of Financial Services Carol Lee presented the proposed budget, explaining that once the budget is approved by the board, it would move forward in the process to CPP President Soraya M. Coley for her final approval.

Lee also clarified that the budget is broken down into two large parts: the ASI portion, and the Facilities and Operation portion. In this board meeting, Lee focused solely on the ASI portion, which includes funding for mandatory groups such as registered Councils and Heritage Programs, as well as funding for the three annually budgeted departments: ASI Student Government, the Children’s Center and the Poly Pantry. 

The reason for this separation is that the revenue for these budgets come from two different student fees: the ASI fee and the Bronco Student Center fee. 

The 2020-2021 budget for the ASI portion accounts for $1.13 million in revenue and $1.11 million in expenses, leaving an almost $20,000 surplus. 

In the recent 2020 ASI election, students voted in favor of changes to how their mandatory fees would be allocated by approving revisions to the Student Opportunities Initiative. For the upcoming budget, this will include an increased allocation to Councils in the amount of $277,000 for a total of $947,000, as well as an increase of $9,700 for Heritage Programs for a total of $120,700. 

The amount allocated to the Councils includes funding for the campus’ more than 350 clubs and organizations.

The amount set aside for the Heritage Programs will not be directly funding the campus’ cultural centers, as those will now be financially supported by the university’s Division of Student Affairs. Instead, according to ASI Attorney General Manshaan Singh, a third-year environmental biology student and ASI 2020-2021 vice president, those funds will be used for students who wish to organize “diversity-related events on campus.”

While student fees are set to be increased by 2.6% as determined by the Higher Education Price Index to keep up with inflation, Hunter confirmed that fees are not going to be raised beyond this inflationary amount to pay for this new allocation structure.

In discussing the budget, some board members also expressed interest in allocating funds to pay for scholarships to student Council leaders, though some wanted to ensure that those receiving scholarships were actively participating in the ASI Inter-Council Committee. 

In addition to the upcoming year’s budget presentation and discussion, the board unanimously voted to approve changes to the bylaws of the Basic Needs Committee, the Facilities and Operations Committee and the ASI Cabinet codes. These changes were recommended by the ASI Rules and Policies Committee and were previously reported on by The Poly Post on Feb. 11 in issue 19.

The ASI Board of Directors is scheduled to meet again through Zoom on Thursday to discuss the Facilities and Operation portion of next year’s budget.  

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