President Alison Norris’ inauguration and swearing in was held at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 18 and the first meeting of the 39th session of the Student Government Association began its first meeting promptly at five o’clock with special instructions from Vice President Jacob Scott to pass the proposed $450,000, 2011/2012 budget.
After a few speeches and introductions of senate members Scott presented a power point laying out his vision of the new session. It stated some of his views and proposed changes that will be covered in future senate meetings and how those meetings will proceed. The presentation concluded with an instruction to the senate to pass the budget.
“It’s important to pass the budget now to get programs funded and going today,” Scott said. But, the budget wasn’t passed without some questions from the senate floor. The money for the SGA budget comes directly from student fees. Fulltime students pay $50 per semester and part time students pay $30 each semester. Senators asked about the fourth largest budget item, which is the $50,000 budget allocation for the administrative assistant position. Vice President Scott began to answer questions and justify the expense and the need for the position.
He explained that the administrative assistance position is responsible for senate travel arrangements and SGA project coordination. SGA Advisor and Vice President for Student Affairs Ester Peralez said, “The position keeps the office open when none of the executive officers are in the office.” Norris added that the administrative position also checks the senator’s office hours and records them to increase accountability of senators and helps SGA keep an open door policy. “She is also the best resource for all senators with any question concerning Missouri Western and SGA policies,” Scott said.
The senators also questioned the amount of money allocated for organizations on campus and the usual budget problem of more money requested than allocated most semesters. The finance oversight committee regulates these funds and the newly appointed Director of Finance Nick McCutcheon will chair that position. To help keep the fund available for the entire budget period he plans to spend less with each request.
“People may not like the message going in (to this session) but, we will have more money at the end,” McCutcheon said. Vice President Scott expressed his feelings that the requirements to get money should be more stringent. “We need to make sure that groups on campus are financing their own projects and have a financial plan that we can support so we aren’t just funding trips for them,” Scott said.
As the first steps in her new presidency Norris appointed McCutcheon as the Director of Finance and Jordan Carney aswhich now includes the duties formally held by the Election Commissioner. The Election Commissioner position has not been budgeted since fiscal year 2010.
“I haven’t appointed the director of communication position yet,” Norris said. “I really want someone with a passion for the position. I don’t want the position just filled, I want it done well.” She is considering applicants still and had contacted some for a second interview. “I may select one of them or wait for new applicants,” Norris said.