On Sept. 15, at their first meeting of the year, the newly elected Undergraduate Student Senate (USS) voted on and unanimously approved their budget of $473,582 for the 2016-2017 school year.
The budget, which is public record and will soon be on the bulletin board outside of the USS office in the University Center, was created by Steve Klein director of the University Center and student activities, who also acts as the USS advisor.
“The budget is pretty much a template from year to year,” Klein said. “There are things we are committed to, but at any point in time, the Senate can decide to move the funds around if they feel something has been worn out. I am all about keeping it fresh.”
This year’s budget of nearly half a million dollars is composed of $418,560 from undergraduate students’ activity fees and $55,022 from the carryover of last year’s USS budget.
The activity fee, which every undergraduate student is required to pay, was tied into the cost of tuition about 10 years ago and now fluctuates each year depending on whether the school decides to increase or decrease tuition. This year, every undergraduate student paid an activity fee of $240, an $8 increase from last year’s fee.
Klein predicted the activity fee will most likely continue to increase in the coming years, especially after this year’s low enrollment numbers and likelihood that tuition will increase.
This year’s budget, which is $2,256 less than last year’s budget, will be distributed by the USS throughout the year. Money has been allocated to 19 different line items listed on the official document. Some of the line items include Residence Housing Association, Greek Senate, Outdoor Pursuits and many more.
“When we first started with the budget, there were maybe five line items,” Klein said. “Now there are nineteen.”
According to Klein, the USS has never exceeded their budget. Klein explained that worked into each line item on the budget is an estimated surplus of money that amounts to nearly $25,000. That money then acts as a rainy day fund for unforeseen consequences or shortages on the budget.
Klein also mentioned that this year’s carryover to next year’s budget will likely be close to $20,000.
One of the constant line items listed on the USS budget from year to year is “Boxer Cards.” This year $45,000 has been allocated to give students the discounts they use with their Boxer Cards.
“We try to make sure that the perks covered with the Boxer Cards are within walking distance from the university,” Klein said. “The Boxer Card is basically an extension of the University Center.”
According to Klein, the money from the “Boxer Card” line item is used to pay the $17,000 contract with the swimming center that allows students to swim for free, the $7,200 contract with the bowling alley that allows students to bowl for free on Thursdays, and pays for the varying amounts of discounts that students use at Pizza Schmizza and the Forest Grove Theatre.
Another line item that is listed on the budget from year to year is titled “Senate Operating,” and it currently has $60,232 allocated to it. Not only does this line item account for the salaries of USS officers, it also allows them to improve campus life.
So far this year, the USS has used their funds to invest in hydration stations around campus, charging stations in the UC, digital messaging boards in the library and Scott Hall, and two new transportation vans.
According to Klein, the USS this year is hoping to create an urban pursuits committee that will transport students into Portland using the newly purchased vans, an end of the year textbook exchange event, the creation of a new multicultural center and the addition of a card swipe reader to Scott Hall so that the building can be used by students even after hours.
Both the USS and Klein have big plans for the year and will be reworking and revising the budget as the year progresses. Klein also encourages students with questions or suggestions about the budget to reach out to the USS as it is an organization that works for the students.