USG Senate talks housing deposits, Springfest and budget

Franklin Hagler, Staff Writer

Major changes to EOP Program is announced and Gallery sparks major debate over Springfest

The Educational Opportunity Program is an organization that focuses on giving economically and environmentally challenged students access to academic support and financial aid. Students recently received an email stating that major changes to the program will be taking place for the upcoming semester, as they will no longer be covering the housing deposit for students that live on campus. Officials that work in Residence Life and United Students Government President Elect Terron Grant have brought the student concerns about these changes to light in this week’s USG meeting.

These services have been very effective on SUNY Buffalo State, serving 465 students actively. The school did announce that the incoming freshmen who are part of the program will still have their first semester covered due to the late notice, however this will be the final time the $400 deposit will be waived. EOP Director Yanick Jenkins would like for USG to send a letter out to top Buffalo State officials trying to get more answers and a possible resolution to this problem.

“The EOP office was informed of this last week and are receiving call from parents saying they cannot pay the deposit and are unsure what to do,” USG President Derek Jorden stated. “So in response, they would like for (USG) to do what we did prior with the housing problem and send another letter out basically asking them can we stop this or how can we change that.”

This comes as the Budget Committee makes their presentation on the potential changes that will be cast for the next academic year. The new budget package comes with a few major changes. A $1500 decrease in the “Welcome Back Week” fund and an increase in professional staff payroll going from $285,000 to around $307,000. The budget was tight and some key areas were cut in order to get the budget done in time for a vote next week. There were some disputes about certain lines and cost, and USG Treasurer Diaisha Richards knew that this wouldn’t go over so smoothly. Richards was asked if more things can be added to the budget, specifically increasing the funding for Springfest.

“The business staff does invest a lot of time on putting our budget together; they know what we need and what we don’t, in order to get to zero we cut from (USG) and we cut from other orgs, but I don’t think adding to Springfest is the best area because we have more vital lines to address and I know sometimes we don’t get the artist that we want, but we have to make it work now,” Richards stated.

The meeting got a bit testy between the Senate and the gallery as it was felt that the students failed to recognize USG as a whole unless it comes to Springfest. Benjamin, a senior chemical engineering major whose last name was unavailable, felt as if the meeting and the Senate as a whole isn’t open enough about the entire process.

“You guys don’t express to the student body to come to these meetings and I feel like it’s secluded to just (the Senate). I was invited here today for the first time, which is why I’m here speaking, because we’ve been asking USG all across social media who’s coming to Springfest, it’s our $75 which goes towards it so we should have a say in what goes on,” Benjamin stated.

This Springfest problem exploded when students were under the impression that local Buffalo artist “22 Love” would be the opening act for recently announced headliner Bryson Tiller. Many students felt as though the selection of artist should be more inclusive, while the Senate would like for students to understand the minor details that come with booking a popular talent.

“We would love to be able to release a name or get the hot new artist out there, but this process isn’t easy because we are at the artist’s mercy,” USG Senator and Springfest Co-Chair Malika Cuffie stated. “We have been working every single day for the past two months trying to secure this contract. As for other artists, we cannot comment on someone who USG didn’t announce as being a part of Springfest. We never said 22 Love was coming, and based on how they have acted, it is obvious they will not be here.”

Senators voiced their opinions about the amount of people involved with USG and why they feel their visibility is right where it needs to be.

“We can’t force interest, but I can tell you that USG is everywhere. We fund orgs but orgs don’t promote us in their meetings, so it’s on them too. Orgs need to spread the word, we table every week and you can go outside right now. I’m pretty sure the first thing you will see is a USG flyer, right? There’s always a USG flyer posted. It’s not our fault that students aren’t interested in student government or want to come to the meeting to voice their opinion,” Cuffie said.

Executive Vice President Emily Leminger agreed with Cuffie’s statement and said student participation over her four years of involvement always spikes around Springfest; how to maintain that interest is the problem.

“It’s very worrisome to me that students feel like the door is closed to this meeting because the doors are always open. We beg students to come and give their opinion, and I understand it’s late at night for commuters, but I’m a commuter and I stick around because I want to know what’s going on on my campus,” Leminger stated.

At the end of the meeting, as tempers calmed, it was understood by both parties that the details and the little things that people may not care about are just as important as the big things. Senators felt as if students seem to only voice their opinions about food or a headline performer for a concert. Any form of participation is wanted, but being actively involved in campus politics and not just the things that immediately effect you is probably the best way to go about things. In that instance, the Senate will see a caring student body that appreciates the work being done, and the students will see a government that takes their concerns into consideration.

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