The UC Santa Barbara Associated Students 2022-23 budget will be reduced by around $2 million, senators from the Finance and Business Committee announced at last week’s Senate meeting on May 4.
The announcement came after members from Associated Students (A.S.) organizations expressed surprise and confusion that their budgets had been reduced to zero for the upcoming year with the expectation that they would be using rollover funding from this year to fund next year’s budgets.
The Senate ultimately voted to extend the rollover funding request deadline to accommodate entities who were not made aware of the upcoming budget cuts.
The Senate budget for the 2021-22 academic year was $13,689,460.91, and the incoming budget will be approved in the coming weeks, third-year political science and sociology double major, current Letters and Sciences Senator and Chair of the Finance and Business (F&B) Committee Hailey Stankiewicz said during public forum.
Stankiewicz said that the F&B Committee zeroed out the budgets of entities with excess funding from this year in the hopes that they would apply to keep the money — known as rollover funding — for the upcoming year.
Entities who were zeroed out included the Black Women’s Health Collaborative (BWHC), A.S. Book Bank, Commission on Disability Equality, the Public Safety Commission, UCIV, Environmental Justice Alliance, A.S. Food Bank, Human Rights Board, A.S. Public and Mental Health Commission, Students Against Sexual Assault and the Transfer Student Alliance.
“We didn’t want organizations that didn’t have any rollover to be left with nothing and for them to have no budget to work with, so we looked at organizations that did have rollover hoping they would request rollover,” Stankiewicz said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors that led to the current budget decrease, the F&B Committee faced difficult decisions about which entities to provide with decreased funding, according to Stankiewicz.
However, several A.S. entities, including BWHC and TSA, told the Senate during a public forum that they were not aware their budgets were being zeroed out or that they were expected to request their rollover funding to fund their organizations for the 2022-23 year.
Halle Dawite, co-chair of BWHC and a fourth-year sociology major, criticized A.S. for its lack of communication in its decision to reduce the organizations’ budgets to zero.
“I’m very confused at why I found out an hour ago from another co-chair that my budget’s been slashed to zero dollars next year,” Dawite said. “The budget was only sent to, like, five different co-chairs [from different organizations] whose budgets got significantly slashed, and then one of those co-chairs who is a friend of mine sent me the budget and was like, ‘Do you know that you have zero dollars next year?’”
“[A.S. Food Bank] has been slashed, [Trans & Queer Commission] has been slashed. I’m very confused at where the transparency is, because why has nobody told me what is going on?” she continued.
Stankiewicz said that she wasn’t aware it was under the jurisdiction of the F&B Committee to inform organizations of the proposed budget cuts and tell them to request rollover funding.
“Me and the head financial officer, Adam Majcher, did not realize that we were required to let everybody know who was zeroed out,” she said. “We’re recommending that these entities request rollover because the rollover was considered when we considered what to zero out.”
Stankiewicz said that entities who would be expected to utilize their rollover funding would be communicated with promptly.
Fourth-year sociology major Monica Sassounian, co-chair of TSA, also voiced the same experience as Dawite and called for more communication from A.S. to Boards, Committees and Units (BCUs), a task that Senators are held responsible for.
“We were also not aware about the budget until our advisor sent it to us. I think there definitely needs to be more transparency,” Sassounian said.
Sassounian said when TSA requested $80,000 for their budget, the organization was only given $16,000 with no explanation of the rollover process and budget reduction.
“More needs to be done by A.S. to keep us involved, and A.S. needs to be more representative of their BCUs.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the May 12, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.