SGA cuts club budgets citing unsustainable finances

William Gavin, Staff Writer

As Quinnipiac University’s student organizations plan to spend around $135,000 by the end of the semester, the Student Government Association (SGA) is looking to cut back on funding prizes and giveaways for events. 

The SGA received approximately $80,000 worth of special appeals funding requests from student organizations before its general meeting on Oct. 20. The finance committee narrowed budget requests down to $14,000 from $40,000, on Oct. 19, said Cameron Davignon, vice president for finance, who will resign after a successor is elected.

Amanda Riha

Special appeals requests are considered based on their location with the highest priority going to on-campus events, followed by off-campus events, conferences, competitions and capital expenditures. Almost all off-campus events were automatically denied by budget reviews. 

To reduce the amount spent on special appeals, the finance committee focused on cutting nonessential items, such as prizes and giveaways, Davignon said.

While SGA has not conducted a formal review as of Oct. 27, Davignon estimated that between 20-35% of approved credit card purchase requests were for giveaway prizes. 

“As a result of the need to host virtual events throughout the long pandemic restriction period, student org(anizations) started to lean more heavily on giving away lots of prizes to entice peers to attend their events,” Davignon said. “This shift is not sustainable for the SGA finance process, as it currently stands, specifically when it comes to purchasing and distributing the high-volume prizes.”

This shift is not sustainable for the SGA finance process…”

— Cameron Davignon, SGA vice president for finance

The cutbacks on prizes and giveaways will continue into the spring semester’s budgeting process, where Davignon recommends student organizations make their events attractive by providing food and “unique valuable experiences” for students. 

This is not only an attempt to reduce the money spent on events, but also to decrease organizations’ dependence on prizes to drive involvement. 

“We hope this will help us return to the core of what SGA aims to deal with fund distribution, which is building community amongst the student body and impacting the most students possible with every dollar spent,” Davignon said. 

Funding for student organizations is divided into block and non-block organizations. Block organizations are created by the university to “represent and support the entire student body,” and are given a sum of money with only general provisions and restrictions on how it is spent, according to the SGA bylaws. Non-block organizations have to go through line-item budgeting for any expenditures. 

Non-block organizations such as the SGA, Multicultural Student Leadership Council, Community Action Project and Student Programming Board (SPB), were allocated $200,000 for the fall semester. 

During the Oct. 20 meeting, SGA voted on a number of requests from student organizations including the SPB, Dance Company and the South Asian Society (SAS). Three organizations; Q30 Television, the SPB and the Fishing Club, requested over $5,000. 

The SPB requested $10,000 for the “Dear World” event, which “aims to build community and develop a sense of self through reflection,” and through participants sharing their stories and messages, according to its funding request. It also requested $5,000 which would fund prizes for “Mega Bingo.”

Quinnipiac’s Dance Company had previously been unable to perform its winter showcase for two years because of an unpaid debt to Hamden Public Schools, which made it difficult to re-book its usual space. Over the summer the organization paid off its balance through a combination of SGA funds and money from fundraisers.

SGA funded the organization $1,800, covering the cost of this year’s winter showcase, which had been denied by past SGA administrations.

“We are thrilled to finally have an in-person showcase after a long time off,” said Sofia Adams,  a senior health sciences studies major in the Entry-Level Master’s Physician Assistant program and president of Dance Company. “Last year we did a video showcase, which was great but I know all of the girls cannot wait to perform on a stage again. It is so fulfilling to be under the lights and be able to interact with the audience.” 

The SAS requested $180 for a Diwali event, which is a major festival Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains celebrate with different meanings depending on the practiced religion. SGA funded the SAS only $9.97 for Diwali, while approving $400 for an Eid dinner and Henna night event for the same club.

A representative from the SAS declined to comment at this time.