Editor's Note: The headline has been changed from "budget" to "appropriation funds."
Another hefty round of requests was approved on Wednesday night. Three student groups received a combined total of $22,736 in appropriations. Two of them were club sports.
The appropriations come as the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico's remaining budget for the spring semester falls to $40,935. Senators have appropriated $61,807 so far this semester.
In Fall 2018, ASUNM appropriated $68,743 in total.
“I think that it's really important to consider that we have had most of the major groups come through,” Finance Chair Holly Gallegos said.
She added, however, that she was worried senators were relying too much on that narrative.
“I have faith in everybody that we’ll end up working it out,” she said.
Typically, ASUNM receives more appropriation requests at the beginning of a semester compared to the end.
The largest appropriation went to Women’s Rugby who received $15,286. The majority of the request was earmarked for costs associated with travel and tournament fees away from UNM. The request also included costs associated with hosting a tournament at UNM.
At the end of last week's Finance Committee meeting, the Student Government Accounting Office Supervisor, Joanna Garcia, said the committee's approval of the request “was not fiscally responsible.” She added that Women’s Rugby representatives had told the committee that many of the tournament costs had already been paid for. Garcia said ASUNM would be effectively reimbursing them, which was not something ASUNM is allowed to do according to their own rules.
Ultimately, Senators voted to reduce the appropriation by a few hundred dollars before approving it unanimously.
Two other appropriations, totaling $7,450 were also doled out.
A $2,951 appropriations request for World Affairs Delegation (WAD) to attend World Model United Nations conference in Madrid, Spain was approved after a long discussion and some reductions.
WAD’s appropriation request did not include a quote for a plane ticket for one of their members. Senator Gregory Romero said that WAD’s representative did bring the quote to the finance meeting to show senators.
President Pro Tempore Jacob Silva introduced a motion to reduce that part of the request from $1,400 to $1,000. Mohammed Jaber made a request to reduce it further to $700 in order to comply with standing rules.
Silva said the reduction was to “penalize” the group for not following finance committee standing rules, a new version of which went into effect in the spring 2019 semester.
“It was to our understanding in Finance Committee that if we would have said no to their (appropriation) then, they would have brought the quote here,” Romero, who sits on the finance committee, said. “To save time, (we) just said we’ll approve it here in the Senate.”
Romero added that the appropriation passed committee unanimously.
James Goodman, a WAD representative at the ASUNM meeting, said he assumed the “oversight,” as he called it, would be inconsequential.
The reduction was approved on a 10-8 vote, including finance chair Gallegos.
“It’s not about the merit of the student organization,” Gallegos said. “It’s just about being consistent and considering that the money we don’t fund them is going to go to other student organizations.”
According to Goodman, the money was designated for a student to attend the conference who otherwise could not.
After the vote, Selina Montoya said she took full responsibility for not informing WAD. Montoya is WAD’s sponsoring senator and a member of the student group.
Lastly, a $4,499 request by the Mountaineering Club was approved. The appropriation request said the group intended to use the money to go on a mounting climbing trip to Colorado and Utah.
Special Guests and Legislation
UNM President Garnett Stokes spoke to senators before finance business began. She spoke about safety, UNM’s budget, enrollment and faculty retention. After her talk, she answered questions from senators.
Montoya asked Stokes what student government role in UNM decision making should be. Stokes said she felt the student's voice was important and that ASUNM Senators should be free to approach her with questions or issues they had.
Two bills, one defining “grammatical mistakes” and another defining the responsibilities of the Projects Coordinator of Governmental Affairs were also passed.
Justin Garcia is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers student government. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc.