SGA senator says nearly $10,000 allocated with little oversight


Mia Hennen

SGA senator Mark Barlow speaks to the student Senate on Oct. 19. Barlow addressed funding issues during public forum.

An SGA senator said that $10,000 in student money has been moved through the Student Senate without discussion or oversight Wednesday evening.

During the Student Senate meeting on Wednesday, Mark Barlow, returning adult senator, spoke on the issue in public forum, saying that 11 funding requests have passed through the Senate without a discussion or debate. 

This is because the funding requests were placed on the consent agenda, which does not allow for discussion, unless a motion to move an item to the main agenda is passed. Barlow has attempted this in previous meetings, but each time they have been rejected. 

Individuals and organizations apply for funding which is then reviewed by the SGA treasurer. The request is then submitted to the Budget and Finance Committee. The committee hears the request and recommends an amount to the Senate. 

Barlow asked Olga Lesnik, budget and finance chair, at last week’s meeting if there is a reason for not putting funding requests in the pending business section of the agenda, where they would be able to hear discussion and debate on the item. Lesnik said that students already go through a lengthy process to receive funding.

“People who apply for funding have to go through multiple processes, including filling out applications, multiple university forms, sometimes university travel forms,” Lesnik said. “They have to schedule a meeting with my committee, come to the committee meeting and present to us. They have to go through Senate … After that is done, the president and the speaker have to sign the bill.” 

In addition, students have to submit receipts to receive reimbursements for travel to then be approved by the treasure and the president.

“Overall, the process can take sometimes up to four to six weeks easily, which makes it a very long time for students to get some of their money back that they have spent on travel,” Lesnik said.

An amendment to the “Fairness and Funding Act” on April 27 allowed students to request individual funding in a shorter time window, going from 45 to 10 days.

“Since the passage of these amendments 11 out of 11 individual funding requests have moved through the Senate without reports, debates, voting or any functional oversight from the Budget and Finance Committee,” Barlow said.

Four of these 11 requests were introduced on Sept. 11 without documentation that shows that these requests were discussed.

Barlow said that Budget and Finance is moving these requests through on the consent agenda. He said this is abusing the Fairness and Funding Act.

“The process of funding is broken,” Barlow said. “And the only explanation given is that this is to provide funding in a timely manner.”

Barlow stood to remove the 10 day amendment from the Fairness and Funding Act in hopes of a better funding process.

Senator Adriana Owens said that the bills have an earlier read date because they are presented during Legislative Affairs where the chairs of SGA are present. Owens gave no answer as to why there are no minutes or agendas from the first readings.

Speaker of the Senate Gregory Vandyke Jr. said that the Senate is not doing “anything to necessarily represent the students,” following Barlow’s comments.

“Whether we agree or disagree with senator Barlow’s opinions, he’s right,” Vandyke said. “He’s fierce and is amped up about doing things for the students, and in the same aspect, I think we need to be just as amped up about the other issues that students face here on campus.”