At its final public meeting of the academic year, the Shippensburg University Student Government Association (SGA) passed the 2023-2024 SUSSI budget and held the transition ceremony from the current SGA to next year’s slate of members.
The meeting saw a larger turnout than any SGA meeting this year with around 60 students sitting and standing in the audience. The increased turnout can be ascribed to the meeting’s business — passing the SUSSI budget.
Shippensburg University Student Services Incorporated (SUSSI) is the organization tasked with distributing funds to student groups from the student activity fee. The SGA Budget and Finance Committee (B&F) reviews student group budget proposals and determines how to allocate funds.
The 2023-2024 budget includes sweeping cuts to many student groups, including a 34% cut to club sports, a 21% cut to student clubs and organizations, a 27% cut to performance arts and a 46% cut to student media. Many students representing organizations across these categories spoke during the open discussion to express their displeasure with the budget.
Associate Editor of the Reflector Emily Dziennik spoke on the wide-reaching budget cuts.
“This budget cut will only hurt SU,” Dziennik said. “Without the money to hold events that bring outside speakers to campus, the university is losing a valuable opportunity to receive outside attention.”
Aidan Piper, the current president of SU Bands, noted the importance of performing arts groups on campus. “We are student ambassadors for Shippensburg University, assisting in retention, enrollment, and recruitment,” Piper said. “We are quite literally on a billboard on Interstate 81.”
Piper continued, sharing how the budget cuts would affect those groups. “Each one of our ensembles gets to travel, gets to showcase Shippensburg University, and that’s what we're here for,” Piper said. “That’s what we're here to do for our campus. With these budget cuts, we are now determining that we cannot do some of those things.
Katie Bridges, the vice president of SU Bands, continued Piper’s remarks after he was cut off by a two-minute limit imposed on individual comments. “My purpose is to try to show you why we requested what we do and how that money is used,” Bridges said. “Not a single member of SGA or the Budget Committee has approached myself or any of my officers.”
Brigette Allen, the director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, commented on the claim that Panhellenic Council was denied a budget because it did not maintain its CampusGroups page.
“Panhellenic Council has like, 12 executive members, and that’s who’s on there,” Allen said. “Did we need to have every single woman in the entire Panhellenic community represented on there?”
SGA President Kennedy Holt responded to concerns during the open gallery. “Everyone was offered an opportunity to serve on the B&F Committee,” Holt said. “Not many of you took that opportunity.”
“Obviously no one’s happy the budget’s getting cut, but this is the first time I’ve seen like half the faces in here,” B&F Committee member Justin Brajkovich added.
VP Brea Neal responded to student’s concerns with an appeal to fundraise. “Every club in this room has had some type of cut, and every club in this room is now going to be expected to put a little more in so that their club is ran successfully,” Neal said.
Responding to concerns about student media being cut by over 46%, Neal commented, “SGA was also cut.”
Katie Huston, the business manager for The Slate, recalled SGA’s issues with how the organization has portrayed SGA. “We can’t present you in any way, if we don’t have the budget to print,” Huston said.
A member of the field hockey team remarked, “A huge cut to the athletes is a huge cut to the entire school.”
In response to concerns brought by other athletes, Neal said: “We don’t have money to give. We’re giving you money we don’t have. So it’s like, we’re doing what we can.”
However, according to some, that is not the case. Chase Slenker, former VP of Finance and current member of the University’s Planning and Budget Council, remarked, “You actually had the opportunity — as a senate and as a Budget and Finance Committee — to have more money in this operating budget, and chose not to do so.”
“For the first time in six years, the university president now would finally allow SUSSI to raise student activity fees. And yet the budget proposal does not include any fee increase,” Slenker said.
President Patterson was reportedly willing to approve an activity fee increase of $1 per credit. However, according to SGA Advisor Lorie Davis, the B&F Committee could not reach a consensus on including such a fee increase. According to sources, this inability to reach a consensus was due to disagreement over where that money should be spent. Mostly, whether it should go to reduce the deficit or allow fewer budget cuts to student groups.
At the beginning of the open gallery discussion, President Holt announced that public comment would be limited to 10 minutes, but that was extended due to the number of those who wished to raise concerns. The discussion was cut short after approximately 25 minutes, denying many who wished to speak the ability to do so.
The 2023-2024 SUSSI Budget was then voted on. All members of SGA voted in favor of the budget, except for Senator Dameeyah Floyd, who had left the room prior to the vote, and Senator Morgan Brumbaugh, who voted no.
Speaking after the meeting, Brumbaugh explained her reasons for voting against the budget.
“I feel that it was not in the best interest of the University to cut the groups that they cut,” Brumbaugh said. “The student groups and the activities outside the classroom are what drive our enrollment.”
Incoming College of Arts and Sciences Senator Abigail Reasoner gave her reaction to the budget’s passage.
“As a new senator coming in, I want to do a better job at reaching out to students,” Reasoner said.
After passing the budget, the meeting shifted to the SGA Transition ceremony. It began with remarks from Lorie Davis.
"This spring semester, I saw ELC [Executive Leadership Committee] members help other ELC members instead of getting frustrated with them,” Davis said. “Instead of trying to do things to harm others, they were helpful. They helped people grow and develop, and I'm extremely proud of you for that."
Former SGA Vice President of External Affairs Harun Pacavar was sworn in as the 2023-2024 SGA President.
“I stand before you today with a heart full of gratitude and appreciation for the trust and confidence you have placed in me by electing me as your student government president,” Pacavar said. “I am deeply humbled and honored to have been given this opportunity to serve you and represent your interests.”
Pacavar received 49 votes in the spring 2023 officer election.
The two other members of the ELC were then sworn in — Kennedy Holt as VP of Internal Affairs and Justin Brajkovich as VP of Student Groups. The VP of Finance and VP of External Affairs positions are vacant and will be filled by election in the fall. Seven senators were sworn in: Abigail Reasoner as College of Arts and Sciences Senator, Teagan Weaver as College of Business Senator, Ali Sina Sharifi as Class of 2025 Senator, Maria-Luiza Takahashi and Lillian Sellers as Class of 2025 Senators, and Eve Nealon and Ethan Conrad as Athletics Senators.
Thursday’s meeting was the last SGA meeting of the spring semester and academic year. SGA traditionally meets regularly over the summer in private caucus meetings and public meetings will resume in the fall.