MSA budget enters committees

Smith-Lezama and Vega said they worked closer than the executive and legislative branches had in previous years.

One Mizzou’s funding was cut in the first draft of the Missouri Students Association budget, which arrived in committee March 3.

The budget, which was put together by MSA Vice President Brenda Smith-Lezama and Budget Chairman Bill Vega, will reach full Senate on March 18 after it passes through Budget Committee. The majority of the increases related to salaries while there were cuts to services and activities across the board.

One Mizzou's $1,000 budget from fiscal year 2015 was removed in the new budgetary year. Smith-Lezama said this was because the program lost its focus and outlived its usefulness.

One Mizzou was founded in February 2011 after two racially charged incidents. The student-led diversity initiative hosted a One Mizzou week in November 2012, during which Maya Angelou spoke at Missouri Theatre. The initiative was later criticized for failing to live up to its expectations and largely fizzling out due to what MSA President Payton Head called “a lack of vision” in a Nov. 18, 2014 Maneater article.

Smith-Lezama said the cut to One Mizzou was thought about early on in the process.

"One Mizzou was intended to be something that would change the atmosphere here on campus. However, we believe that it really hasn't fulfilled its potential,” she said. “Especially after the events ... relating to Mike Brown and the protests and the open forum that we had, we realized that the student body does not believe in One Mizzou. The student body no longer believes it's beneficial, so ... it's not something that we need to keep around. I've spoken to Chancellor (R. Bowen) Loftin, Dr. (Cathy) Scroggs, Noor (Azizan-Gardner), Young (Kwon) from Four Front, and we've all reached the same conclusion: We're going to pull back on (One Mizzou)."

Overall allocations were $35,892 less in this proposal than in the budget that passed last year, with many departments and auxiliaries taking cuts.

"We always asked (the departments and auxiliaries), 'If you had to cut something, what would you cut?'" Smith-Lezama said. "That made it easier when it came to reallocating funds."

She said one of the first things to go was funding for banquets and parties. She also said meetings between her and Vega and the different departments went well.

Smith-Lezama and Vega said they worked closer than the executive and legislative branches had in previous years.

"We worked very closely together," Vega said. "I know on one Sunday, we spent five hours together cranking it out right at the end."

Department cuts

Vega announced in Budget committee on Tuesday that Student Legal Services decided to cut the part-time position of night lawyer, freeing up at least $5,850. The change to the budget means that some funds which would previously have been cut will be restored. The committee discussed restoring funds to the MSA/GPC Box Office, Black Programming and STRIPES, among others.

Some of the largest cuts went to departments, which brought in revenue with the expectation that they could earn at least some of that money back. Fall Welcome's allocation, which holds events at the beginning of the school year, dropped by $3,500.

"I think that the cuts we made are not going to be detrimental to anyone," Smith-Lezama said. "We made sure if we were cutting that it would be from somewhere that could be able to recoup those costs. Pretty much everyone received a little bit of a cut. It was across the board. I don't think there were any major changes."

Speakers received a $2,000 cut, College Music received a $812 cut and Films received a $740 cut. Smith-Lezama said the Department of Student Activities was trying to do more large events to attract more paying customers.

"The way that the new exec of DSA is thinking is that they want to bring in big names, big attractions, big draws," Smith-Lezama said. "They're not just thinking of Columbia. They want to make sure they're pleasing our students, but at the same time, they're looking at acts that can attract people from St. Louis and Kansas City and make sure we're bringing in the top dollar possible."

Part of getting that top dollar is a relationship with Mizzou Arena, which Smith-Lezama said Director of Student Activities Maiya Putman is building.

"That's going to be incredibly beneficial because we're going to be able to house those bigger names," Smith-Lezama said. "We can't bring in one of the most popular acts and put them in the Missouri Theatre. But having the ability to do a full-arena show or half-arena show would be really beneficial and is going to help the department grow."

New Services were cut to zero because the Department of Student Services wanted to focus on bettering its existing services, Smith-Lezama said.

Salary adjustments

The weeks worked for executive salaries were uniformly brought down from 36 to 32, the number of weeks in an MU academic year. Overall, executive salaries dropped more than $2,000, as two department directors decided to forgo summer hours and therefore summer pay.

The vice president's number of paid hours in the fall were also increased from six to 10.

"We all think that in the fall, yes, the vice president has a little less to do because the budget season is over," Vega said. "But her time is still very valuable. It was cut last year ... essentially on a whim. (This raise) is essentially a put back. Six hours was a gross underestimate of the time spent by her, and we thought 10 was much more reasonable."

Senate committee chairpersons will be receiving a stipend of just less than $400 each. The Senate's budget, however, was cut by $650.

The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, which last year was included in the MSA budget, is now part of the Department of Student Life. The more than $24,000 in funds that was freed up went to fund one-third of Campus Activities Associate Director Kathy Murray's salary, for which MSA is responsible.

Senators will vote for final approval of the budget April 8.

"We will continue to analyze through the committee, and hopefully we'll attract more senators to come in and get a few more voices heard," Vega said. "There will be three consecutive weeks dedicated to passing the budget. I don't anticipate a lot of changes. If anything, there will be maybe small tweaks. What we're trying to do is get fresh eyes on this."

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