The executive and legislative branches of the Student Government Association failed to pass a budget at their second weekly meeting on Tuesday, due to disagreements over whether to use funds for scholarships or for recreational amenities.
The contentious issue was allocation of money to the “special projects fund,” and how it would affect other parts of the budget. The amount allocated, which totaled $6,500, would be used as a part of two projects planned for the First Year Village green space.
Planning for this fund was headed by Administrative Vice President Kenan Mujkanovic and Executive Vice President Garrett Edmonds.
Edmonds was first to further elaborate on these plans, explaining that they would be used to build a sand volleyball court, as well as space for hammocks in the village’s green space.
Edmonds claimed that students currently go off-campus to play sand volleyball, and hammock spaces on South Lawn are usually full. These developments would open up opportunities for more freshmen to enjoy amenities, he said.
“Students only use the green space if there’s something on them to utilize,” Edmonds said in his initial statement.
No part of these amenity development plans are set final yet. SGA would need to pass the budget before bids could be sent to construction companies.
The executive branch, in budgeting the project, spoke at length with Brian Kuster, vice president for enrollment and student experience. They decided that this construction would impact enough students to justify the price tag.
The legislative branch disagreed.
Legislative member Anthony Survance rebuked the choice of allocation — it would cut SGA funds normally reserved for scholarships. Survance held strong to the idea of keeping the money where it could be used for disadvantaged students, more directly benefiting the student body.
Edmonds, however, claimed the freshman village side projects were about maintaining the “family” element that is a driving factor behind the village’s construction itself. Edmunds claimed this would lead to better retention.
“If a freshman walks outside their door in the freshman village, they have opportunities to keep the family environment on campus,” Edmonds said. He added that this would be beneficial to creating diversity through engagement with fellow freshmen.
The green space in question would not be exclusive to the new freshman village, either — the space will be shared by a total of five major dormitories.
Legislative Research Committee Chair Josh Zaczek said that he failed to see how these proposed amenity spaces were any more effective at student engagement than picnicking or playing frisbee.
SGA President Will Harris pointed to Northern Kentucky University, an institution that has recently completed construction of a freshman village. He said a sand volleyball court, constructed alongside the village, has seen heavy use since the village’s opening.
Harris also claimed these proposed aides to recruitment and retention directly aligned with WKU President Timothy Caboni’s goal for the university.
“It’s a way that SGA can get their name out there and stop being known for just green books and scantrons,” Harris said.
Survance bluntly described the entire motion as “slimy.”
“If they had done this great work and cemented these great proposals, then I’m sure we would be happy to vote for it," Survance said. "It feels like a power grab that you all are trying to take credit for.”
Survance was chided by the speaker for the comment.
The budget’s push was for naught, as senate voted to keep $3,000 in its own discretionary fund and $35,000 in scholarships. The executive branch then decided to pull the budget.
The year’s budget requires a full seven days before a new revision can be proposed and voted on, thus leaving the budget meeting at an impasse.
Progress toward a compromise, however slight, was made during this meeting: an improvised budget plan from Mujkanovic would see $1,500 sent to the special project fund after having $750 pulled from both the legislative and executive branches’ discretionary funds.
This proposal will still need to wait a full week before it is acted upon.
Bills 1-19-F and 2-19-F were tabled until SGA’s next meeting. This included the proposed “Greeks Go Green” project and the aforementioned green space project.
Harris closed debate on the budget by commending the senate’s ability to talk out differences, and said he was hopeful for progress. The next SGA meeting will be Tuesday at 5 p.m.
News reporter Brody Rexing can be reached at 270-745-6011 and Brody.Rexing586@topper.wku.edu.