GAPSA stalls on budget

The group’s funding is still on hold, and some say that hurts its ability to help students.

Haley Hansen

Amid financial uncertainty, the Graduate and Professional Student Association’s first general assembly meeting of the year on Wednesday failed to produce an operational budget.

The group will hold an emergency meeting next week to approve its operational budget with hopes that by then its financial situation will be stable.

While the group didn’t pass an operational budget, it did discuss plans to potentially put parts of its working budget on hold to ensure it has enough funding for operational expenses.  

GAPSA’s financial uncertainty started in May, when Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young put its funding on hold and announced the start of an investigation into the group’s finances after an alleged $93,000 budget discrepancy. GAPSA Vice President Ashley Hall said she hopes the investigation into GAPSA’s finances will close within the next week.

Some members said they’ve been waiting for a long time to receive funds and it’s affecting the group’s ability to assist graduate and professional students.

Damien Carriere, GAPSA’s representative to the Board of Regents, said that while he understands the penalties, the University’s hold is unfair for students applying for grants through GAPSA.

Students expressed heightened concerns at Wednesday’s meeting for those who may have been relying on grants from the group during October.

“Everything is affected,” he said. “And that’s a very sorry situation.”

Last year, grants made up more than 20 percent of GAPSA’s overall budget, doling out $98,500 to students.

GAPSA is also considering putting a freeze on its programming funding, which includes events for graduate students and partnerships with other University groups and organizations.

The group planned for a large cut in programming funds in its working budget — it’s planning to allocate more than $67,000 less for their events and partnerships this year.

While it waits for the University to finish the investigation, GAPSA is running on its reserve funds.

If the group receives its funding from the University, it’ll be working off a $232,000 budget, which is about $160,000 less than it requested for the year. The budget received significant cuts in funding from the University due to GAPSA’s failure to comply with Student Services Fees Committee deadlines.

While the budget is at a standstill, the group did approve a revised constitution at the meeting.

GAPSA President Alfonso Sintjago said the group made amendments to its constitution and bylaws in order to make them more proportional regarding the group’s 10 councils to ensure it treats all of them equally.

“It creates council autonomy, and it clarifies some of the processes of the executive board,” Sintajo said.

Though GAPSA members are working through the financial situation, Carriere said students are the ones most affected.

“It feels unfair for the students because we won’t be able to serve them,” Carriere said.