EDITORIAL: MSA Budget passed without voice of auxiliaries

By Amanda Sohaney, MUTV assistant general manager

The Missouri Students Association is responsible for a budget of around $1.7 million that comes from the Student Activity Fee that students pay. This budget goes towards various departments, including MSA and the departments of student services, communications and activities. This year, MSA found themselves with around $85,000 less than last year and was forced to make budget cuts. You can see the entire budget here: MSA Budget 2013-2014.

All eleven MSA auxiliaries rely on these funds from MSA to operate and pay salaries. The auxiliaries include the Craft Studio, the Department of Student Activities, KCOU, Mizzou Bike Share, Mizzou Readership Program, MSA/GPC Box Office, MUTV, Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, STRIPES, Student Legal Services and Tiger Pantry. All provide great services and opportunities to all MU students, and all understood that the budget needed to be cut across the board.

My concern was that we had no voice and no recognition in the process. KCOU’s current and future general managers, as well as MUTV’s general manager and I all attended the Senate meetings on April 3 and 10, ready to discuss the budget proposal. Our media advisor told us we would have a chance to speak up during the Senate meeting when the budget was brought up. We were all under the impression that we would get a chance to talk and voice our concerns. After all, the money (or lack of) going to our stations directly affects us. But we never had the opportunity to talk. If we had known we weren’t going to have the opportunity to talk during the Senate meeting, we would have come up with a different approach.

Here’s what happened at the April 10 senate meeting, and you can watch MUTV’s live stream of the meeting here. The budget proposal bill starts at 31:40 and ends at 32:53. Vice President Zach Beattie, who is in charge of the budget, comes to the floor.

“Hey everyone, no changes since what you heard last week and the week before, so I will not pull it up,” Beattie said. “I can if anyone wants me to but there are no changes compared to what you guys have already seen. So, that’s my speech.”

Senate Speaker McKenzie Morris asks if anyone has any questions for the author. You have to be a senator to speak at the meeting, and no one speaks. Beattie sits back down, the floor is opened for questions from the Senate and still no one speaks. All senators vote in favor and the bill passes.

And that was it. MUTV’s budget was cut without our questions or comments or any collaboration with the staff members. So we took to twitter:

MSA President, Nick Droege, took notice and responded. Two others also responded, Daniel Eisner and David Vaughn. I’m fairly certain they are MSA senators but I was unable to find a list of the senate members, which is a whole other issue.

According to them, a large amount of time was spent on the budget process. So where exactly did this happen? Behind closed doors where just a few MU students decided the fate of everyone’s student fees? Probably. According to this Maneater article, “(Zach Beattie) along with other MSA cabinet members and the senate speaker, stayed at Shakespeare’s Pizza for five hours on March 7 until they balanced the budget.” Why weren’t the students on the staffs of the programs being cut present?

After the Vice President prepares the budget, MSA budget committee reviews it. MSA’s website describes what the budget committee does, saying “We use our knowledge of the MSA auxiliaries and their respective financial history to allocate money as needed”

On the Tuesday right before the last Senate meeting, MUTV and KCOU led tours of both stations for the senators. When going down to the lower level of the Student Center where both stations are located (along with the RSVP center, another MSA auxiliary), some senators said that they had never been down there before. A lot of senators had never seen the stations or any of our state-of-the-art equipment before. I got the impression that most of them had no idea what we do. Someone even asked if MUTV runs 24/7 (of course it does, we are a fully functional TV station). That’s hardly the kind of knowledge necessary to decide our entire budget.

The website also says, “Budget Committee intends to visit each respective auxiliary in the fall semester in order to familiarize ourselves with the services these auxiliaries provide.” My fingers are crossed it means fall semester 2013, because I have never met anyone on the budget committee. I would hope the members take an interest in the programs they are responsible for funding.

“Externally, the Senate represents the interest of the student body within the University and around the Mizzou community through several means including collaborating with other entities and the creation of resolutions,” according to MSA’s website.

My interests weren’t represented. My opinion was never asked. No MSA members collaborated with MUTV to create any sort of resolution.

MUTV recognizes MSA worked hard to balance the 2013-2014 fiscal budget and had to make tough cuts all across board. I believe I speak for the entire station when I say we are extremely disappointed that our voices were not heard in the process. I expect better from the entity that is supposed to be representing my interests. I expect MSA to hold the doors wide open for the students and organizations it represents and be ready to invite everyone to the conversation and be willing to listen.

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