OUSC budget similar to others

By Kevin Graham

Oakland University’s Student Programming Board spends it’s money planning student events. Student Congress also dedicates a portion of their budget to this purpose.

Student Program Board chairman Jermaine Conaway explained the purpose of the arrangement.

“I think you’ll see that the events that OUSC does do are more so informative events, awareness events,” Conaway said. “SPB does more entertainment and sort of a way to escape the stresses of school.”

This practice is not uncommon at other universities around the state.

Christopher Sligh, director of student activities and leadership programs at Western Michigan, describes a situation similar to that at OU.

“(Western Student Association) does spend some money on programming, but does not spend any money in relation to entertainment.”

He said that WSA is focused on educational, service and policy initiatives.  Entertainment events are left to the Campus Activities Board.


Variety among universities

According to financial documents from Saginaw Valley State, their student government spends as much as 31 percent on programming of campus activities and events for both entertainment and education purposes.

At the low end of the spectrum, schools like Michigan Tech, University of Michigan Ann Arbor and Michigan State spend less than 10 percent of their budget on programming.

Michael Carroll, treasurer at Northern Michigan University, said it’s student government doesn’t do any programming. Carroll did not report any financial information.

“Most of our funds, however, go toward our basic office operations and maintenance and promotion of implemented services,” he said. “Programming at NMU is done by student organizations.”

Although specific programming numbers were not available, Grand Valley State budgets $1 million to its student life fund which is doled out by its student government. Twelve councils split $776,000 of that money in order to plan activities and events for the members of their Council.

Hybrid models are also possible.

Samantha Artley, Michigan State Associated Students director of media relations, said the student government could contribute depending on the size of the event being planned, although the practice isn’t frequent.

OUSC spent just over 16 percent of their budget on programming related expenses, according to fall 2011 expense report numbers — placing them in the median area based upon numbers received from other universities.


Congress creates flexibility  

OUSC Vice President Elisa Malile said she feels the organization exhibits great flexibility in their funding of programming.

“I think we are being fiscally responsible because then we would be wasting money that would just be sitting in the budget when we have other great enriching opportunities to use the money,” Malile said.

OUSC has been able to free up money for upcoming events, like the 2012 Oakland Woman’s Symposium, by diverting money from canceled January and February events, as well as axing Grizz Gang and athletics promotion.

Student Body President Benjamin Eveslage was quick to point out that these cuts would not have an adverse effect should the basketball team make the NCAA tournament.

“We actually do have funds available within the organization to pay for buses for events that come up,” he said.

Malile said reaching out to student organizations has helped.

“Part of our platform when we ran was that we would work with other student organizations,” she said.  “We want them to be part of our events and cosponsor with us.”

In addition to providing monetary support, she said partnering with other organizations has brought in more students to events and provided reach OUSC doesn’t have.

Financial affairs director Michael Allison downplayed budget concerns.

“You can sit there and play what ifs all day, but at the end of the day we have the money available if we need it,” he said.

—-Contact staff reporter Kevin Graham via email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @KevinGraham88