PU Stack explains budget approval process

The Union Executive Board budgets for all Union-funded clubs in their annual process

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another semester at RPI! I hope that each of you enjoyed our month-long break and got a chance to relax, whether by hanging out with friends and family, catching up on some much-needed sleep, or hitting the slopes to ski. With classes beginning this week, make sure to stop by the RPI Bookstore to purchase your textbooks and stock up on back-to-school supplies for the upcoming semester. Every dollar that you spend goes directly to supporting the many clubs and organizations funded under the Rensselaer Union! You can also gear up for the two exciting weekends of RPI Hockey coming up soon. This Saturday, our men’s hockey team takes on Union College in the first annual Mayor’s Cup at the Times Union Center in Albany. All students holding season tickets received a voucher which can be exchanged at the Houston Fieldhouse box office for a ticket to the game, and RPI students attending this contest will receive a special, customized rally towel. Please see the Union Administration Office for more details about this great new event.

In other news, the Union Executive Board returned to campus early this past weekend to finish up another milestone in the budgeting process of the Union. The entire process is very thorough and time consuming, but it is truly a statement that brings pride to being a student at Rensselaer. The Union was designed for the students, is managed and funded by the students, and contributes greatly to the professional, social, and academic development of the students. Here is a glimpse into the creation of the student activity fee for next year.

The process began on July 1, 2012, when the Union rolled into fiscal 2013. The 15 appointed students on the Union Executive Board were each assigned eight to ten Union-funded student organizations and one to two varsity athletic teams to oversee. From an administrative perspective, the ten student activities resource persons, who are Union administration staff, also oversee these same organizations. Administrative support for our varsity teams was provided by the athletic coaches and other personnel from the Athletics Department. In September, the Union administration and Executive Board hosted a financial workshop for club officers. Each Union-funded organization was required to send a representative to these sessions, which covered the financial policies and logistics of club operations. For the next few months, the Executive Board representatives and SARPs met with clubs to assist them with managing their current budgets and planning for next year. During the days before finals, the Executive Board reviewed and finalized the varsity athletic budgets in addition to some of the Union administrative budgets. Shortly thereafter, preliminary club budgets were due, and winter break began. The Executive Board returned to campus a couple of days early to review all Union-funded clubs’ budgets. All told, the E-Board representatives and SARPs took almost 25 hours to carefully review all budget requests, literally line-by-line. Some programs were approved, some were partially approved, and some were denied.

The story does not end there, however. This past Sunday, budgets were released to club officers for their review. Club officers will have until 12 pm tomorrow (Thursday January 24) to submit an appeal to their proposed budgets, which will be reviewed by the Executive Board this Saturday (January 26). With the appeals process over, numbers will be crunched, balanced, and finalized. This will result in a proposed activity fee for the upcoming fiscal year. The Union Annual Report Committee will then insert the final numbers from budgeting into an easy-to-read document known as the Union Annual Report. A preliminary version of this report will be provided to the Student Senate, who will debate and vote on both the UAR and the activity fee recommendation.

If the Senate approves the budget, then the budget is then forwarded to Vice President of Student Life Timothy Sams. After reviewing the budget, Sams’s administration team will incorporate the Union’s budget into the even-larger student life budget. Sams will then present the student life budget to President Jackson. After reviewing the budget, Jackson’s administration team will then add the student life budget to the overarching Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute budget. Finally, Jackson will then present the Institute budget to the Board of Trustees in early March. With their approval, the activity fee for FY 2014 will be officially set.

The Executive Board will not meet this week and will resume weekly meetings next week. For this semester, E-Board meetings will be at 8 pm in the Shelnutt Gallery (Union Room 3606). I will be holding office hours this spring from 6–8 pm. If you have any questions or comments regarding the Union budget or matters for the Executive Board, feel free to stop by, or email me at Again, welcome back!