Student Senate’s $30,000 surplus lessened after only $5,000 was spent in the 2020-21 academic year, pushing $25,000 in unallocated funds onto the 99th Student Senate.
The first mention of a plan for the rollover budget happened in early February, consisting of possibly buying a net to protect people’s car windshields, some type of mural or making changes to the Bearcat Commons. Though this is the 98th Student Senate Treasurer Connor Thompson’s proposal, the responsibility of making sure the money will be used is now placed on the 99th Student Senate Treasurer Jenna Lee-Johnson.
At the Feb. 23 Student Senate meeting, they gave $1,500 from the rollover budget to a winter coat drive, but there has been a lack of use of the money ever since.
Almost two months later, the plan for the unallocated $25,000 has remained quiet until one of the last meetings of the semester. At the April 6 meeting, Thompson proposed the idea of making the leftover money into a scholarship for international students who didn’t receive aid under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
“I definitely want to make sure it is a priority,” Lee-Johnson said. “I know we get our minds on other things and then put budget on the backburner, but it’s a huge amount of money, and I think we need to treat it with a big priority.”
Thompson estimated that anywhere between 180 and 190 international students would receive the scholarship that is to be funded by the rollover budget. But with the international enrollment for the spring 2021 semester being at 364, this means these scholarships will be given based on need.
Though the money has been proposed to go to the scholarship, it is still unknown when it would be given to students.
“A lot of the stuff that we are trying to do has to go through a process, like what we are trying to do for the international students,” Thompson said. “I think it should happen during the summer; I’m not 100% sure. There are just a lot of things we had to do to spend the money on certain big projects.”
Lee-Johnson said she is going to be working with Thompson while transitioning into her new role for the upcoming year. She also said because there are no more Student Senate meetings, she will be working during the summer to make sure this scholarship is given to students.
“International students bring so much to the University and the community, so they definitely deserve that,” Lee-Johnson said. “It’s going to be my biggest thing in the fall and even in the summer to see what steps we need to take for that.”