On Thursday, February 14, the Union Executive Board, the Student Senate, and the Rensselaer Union’s Union Annual Report Committee released the Union Annual Report Fiscal Year 2014. According to President of the Union Jonathan Stack ’13, “This document gives members of the RPI Community the opportunity to understand every aspect of the Union budget, and find out where every cent of the [Union] Activity Fee goes.”
According to Stack, the E-Board essentially predicts how many students they expect to enroll at RPI each year, basing their numbers on projections released by the Office of Admissions. Using this number, as well as the Union’s budget, the E-Board then determines the Union Activity Fee for the following year. Stack mentioned that, over the past few years, admission projections have indicated that fewer students are enrolling, which would result in fewer students to share the cost of the Union’s budget. Stack added that, despite these projections, incoming freshmen classes have consistently been averaging about 150 more students than expected. Based on that, this year the E-Board has projected a total enrollment of 5,200 undergraduate students and 1,100 graduate students.
Because of this gradual rise in RPI’s student base, the E-Board was able to approve an average increase of 8.57 percent for budgets for Union-recognized clubs and organizations. They also increased budgets for intercollegiate athletics by 5.91 percent. As a result of the increase in ICA budgets, the E-Board has also decided to subsidize intramural sports to a greater degree than before. According to Stack, all non-Interfraternity Council intramural sports are fully subsidized, except for ice hockey. However, non-IFC ice hockey has been subsidized an additional 40 percent.
The Executive Board also recently refurnished RU 2124. It will now function as a “Multicultural Lounge.” To assist with this, the E-Board appointed the new Assistant Director of Student Activities and Multicultural Programs John Killings.
Stack also described the E-Board’s efforts to increase marketing for the Union. Previously, the Union budget allocated approximately $5,000 to marketing. As the E-Board manages approximately $8.5 million, Stack expressed his disappointment with the amount spent. In an effort to change this, the E-Board hopes to hire a full-time employee who will be in charge of promoting and advertising the Union. This employee will also work with clubs to promote club activities and campus-wide events. Addtionally, the marketing employee will work to reach out to students and the community of Troy as a whole. Stack stressed that this employee would also work on changing things down the line by helping clubs develop relationships with RPI’s preferred vendors. The goal, he said, was that clubs would be able to “take their events to the next level.” To allow for this to happen, the E-Board will budget more than $90,000 for marketing purposes.
Another change to the Union will be the removal of the U.S. Postal Service postal substation in the Games Room. Stack explained that the reasoning behind this was that, although some students used the service, the E-Board could not justify spending $31,500 each year on the substation. For those that may be affected by this change, Stack mentioned that the Bookstore will soon offer postage and the Mail Center in Commons Dining Hall will accept outgoing mail. There is also a dropbox outside the Union, near Father’s Marketplace. For any other services, the Troy Post Office is located within walking distance of Blitman Residence Commons. Despite the changes, Stack was excited to mention that no staff members would lose their jobs as a result.
The UAR explains that the Union receives 85 percent of its income from activity fees and the other 15 percent from other operations. Of this 15 percent, 65 percent comes from the Bookstore. Father’s also provides 14 percent of this.
In terms of expenses, 40 percent of the Union budget goes toward athletics, 19 percent is allocated toward the Union Administration budget, and 15 percent goes directly to clubs and organizations recognized by the Union.
The activity fee, which goes toward the Union budget, increased by 3.95 percent for undergraduates and 3.89 percent for graduates for FY 2014. Last year, the fee was $595.50 for the former and $321.50 for the latter. Undergraduates will now owe $619 and graduates will need to pay $334.
When Stack announced the release of the UAR on Reddit, several students asked about the possibility of viewing the information in spreadsheets for sorting purposes. Stack stated that “The Union Annual Report Committee is currently designing a website that will be hosted by the Union and will contain much more information regarding the UAR and the Union budget.” He added that the data in the UAR will be available as either an Excel or Google spreadsheet to allow the desired functionality.
Despite the announcement, Stack mentioned that the numbers in the UAR will not be final until they go before the Institute’s Board of Trustees for approval. Once this occurs, the data will be set, and the budget and activity fee will be finalized.
For more detailed data regarding the Union’s budget for FY 2014, the UAR is available online at http://docs.studentsenate.rpi.edu/documents/2257/revisions/current/download/. For more information, students can contact Stack at firstname.lastname@example.org.