The Student Senate has a rollover budget of $30,000 from lack of use in the spring 2020 and fall 2020 semesters due to COVID-19.
The majority of the money that is allocated to the Senate — which comes from a per credit hour co-circular fee paid by students — is given back to student organizations for traveling and other fees, but since traveling is prohibited and organizations have had a slow start coming back, the money went unused.
Student Senate Treasurer Connor Thompson said that the plans for the money have just started being discussed, but they are talking about putting in nets in the parking lots by the baseball fields.
“We’ve noticed it sometimes takes a while for the school to replace people’s windshields,” Thompson said. “We think it will save everyone a lot of money.”
Thompson said that adding in the nets is estimated to cost around $5,000, and that adding them in would ultimately improve this problem for both students and the University. They are still pending approval for this project but have other ideas on where to allocate the money.
Student Senate representative Joseph Etheridge said there was talk about having a mural or some type of art made for students on campus.
“One Student Senate representative brought up the idea of doing some art that would be nice for students to look at,” Etheridge said.
The idea for this project would also try to get students and departments on campus to participate and have a say in what it would look like.
“Just having it there and being something for students to look at is something that they would really enjoy,” Thompson said. “Also having local art students and the art department in general design that.”
Another idea presented was to renovate and make improvements to the Bearcat Commons seating areas.
“I know a lot of people complain about the Union seats; I know I do,” Thompson said. “I know there’s been talk about general quality of life improvements, and that’s what students have been asking for.”
With $30,000 leftover from lack of use from the past year, some wondered why the co-curricular fee, which the Senate vetoed lowering in 2019, was still required. Part of designated fees on students’ bills go toward funding the Student Senate and allowing them to allocate fees to organizations on campus.
Thompson explained that taking away that fee for this year wasn’t up to the Senate, but rather administration from the University. He said they executively decided to leave the fee to keep Student Senate running and help students in the long run.
Instead of keeping the excess money that they have acquired, they decided to make the highly requested changes from the student body.
“I think those are what we are going to use the layover budget for because I don’t want to waste anyone’s money,” Thompson said. “I don’t want people to be upset that they’re paying this fee, but I understand that they’d be a little upset this year.”
Though they are in the beginning process of finding where to allocate money, they have decided that they want to make more improvements on campus.
“Every year we do basic quality of life improvements, and you can also submit them on BearcatLink,” Thompson said. “Anyone is able to do it. Obviously we are going to do that; it’s just using the layover budget and making sure we are using it correctly is what matters most.”