MSA clarifies their request for fund reallocation

MSA is “asking for a bigger piece of the pie, not a bigger pie.”

Missouri Students Association President Xavier Billingsley, in response to a previous Maneater article, said he wants to clarify that MSA is not asking for a student fee increase; rather, they are asking to receive a larger portion of existing student fees.

“In simpler terms, we’re asking for a bigger piece of the pie, not a bigger pie,” Billingsley said in a response on the MSA website.

Every student pays approximately $400 in student fees, which gets divided between services at MU. The majority of money goes to the MU Student Recreation Complex, the MU Student Health Center and MU Student Unions. Approximately 5.5 percent of this money goes to MSA currently.

The total student fees increase annually with inflation, although by law, the total student fees cannot increase more than 3 percent above the Consumer Price Index, according to the MSA bylaws. Student fees were increase by 2.9 percent last fiscal year.

For the next fiscal year, each service and organization decides whether or not they need this inflationary increase. Then, they present their fee percentage to the Student Fee Review Committee. SFRC chairman Chris Conant said even these inflationary increases must be justified.

“We look over all these proposals and make decisions based on need and merit,” Conant said.

This fiscal year, MSA is asking SFRC for a 17 percent increase in its portion of the total student fees. This would give the organization $25.80 from the student fees, rather than the $22.60 it currently receives.

By increasing MSA’s percentage, however, other organizations will receive less money for their services.

“That’s the nature of these requests, because any time you’re working within an existing pool of money and you’re requesting a large chunk of that, then other organizations would receive less,” MSA Director of Student Communications Zach Toombs said.

SFRC decides whether MSA gets the inflationary increase by comparing its services to those of other organizations.

“(SFRC tries) to have a good grasp on what (organizations) do, what services they provide, how many students they touch and what functions they provide for students,” Conant said.

Conant and SFRC make recommendations about money allocation, which they write in a report. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs presents this report to the Board of Curators. Conant said that the board nearly always executes what SFRC recommends in its report.

Billingsley and other MSA members will be asking SFRC for more than $200,000. This money will be divided among numerous MSA services.

The most money, $150,000, is planned to go to the Department of Student Activities to increase funding relative to inflationary increases.

“If you look back at DSA’s budgets in the '70s and '80s, they’re comparable to (today’s budgets), despite inflation increasing,” Toombs said.

This money would allow DSA to fund many of their events, which Toombs said includes a myriad of events, not just concerts like many people think.

Toombs said the top priority would be MSA auxillary Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center. The RSVP Center needs $39,500 to finance coordinator Danica Wolf’s salary, which is being funded by a grant that expires August 2013.

Tiger Pantry would receive approximately $5,000. Toombs said this number was a good estimate rather than the concrete number requested for RSVP.

Toombs said others have questioned how MSA can pay for its new Legislative Advocacy Officer when it has large financial problems, but he does not feel this is an accurate comparison.

“It would be like people in Congress saying, ‘Let’s cut public radio funding to fund Medicare,’” Toombs said. “This is funding on much bigger terms (than the LAO position).”

MSA will present their request to reallocate funds on Nov. 14.

“You really have to show them your numbers and the amount of need for each,” Billingsley said. “We can ask, but it doesn’t mean that they’ll give it to us.”

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