SGA senators debate funding events that allow donations

Photo by Alyssa McComb.

During the final Student Government Association meeting of the semester, UCF senators debated on funding events that allow donations.

Although the senators heard from a total of three Registered Student Organizations Thursday night, it was a bill that held a funding request from the Black Female Development Circle that stirred the most debate.

The requested funding would go toward the group’s annual Stroll Show, which has taken place at UCF for the last 15 years. What made SGA senators listen more closely was the language used in describing the event.

The organization, when addressing the senators for the first time during the evening, said that they will be taking donations for preferred seating spots in the Bright House Networks Stadium. Since they are taking donations at the venue, Bright House Networks Stadium would not be giving the organization a student discount to rent it out for the night.

“I have never seen this venue charge a fee to rent and then also make money off of taxes for additional tickets,” said Amber Mariano, a senator for the College of Sciences.

The breakdown cost provided to the SGA senate student body also noted a tax would be put on the donations taken at the stadium. The students in BFDC also said they are donating a portion of their proceeds to Food for Families. The rest of their profits will be allocated back to paying off the venue. In this bill, the senate would be paying for half of the cost to fund the event.

“As long as they don’t go through the venue for these donations, we can take off the tax,” Mariano said.

The Financial Allocations for Organizations Committee, a committee comprised of SGA senators, stated that the SGA senate does not pay for philanthropic events, nor does it pay for taxes.

“While we do not necessarily fund philanthropy events, so as much as it would be nice to be able to donate, it is questionable,” said FAO chair Kimberly Winarski.

What remained in question was the philanthropic nature of the event. Additionally, in order to receive funding from SGA the organization must figure out how to get rid of taxes on the donations.

“FAO specifically funds cultural and educational events, so if this is a cultural or educational event that is asking for donations, that’s fine, as long as it’s not a donation-focused event,” Winarski said.

After tabling the bill for the majority of the meeting, the organization came back at the end of the meeting to offer changes to the bill.

The organization offered to change the language of the bill to reflect what the RSO thought better represented its mission statement. Wording changed from being focused on Greek culture to focusing on black women and diversity.

It was also decided that donations would be accepted outside of the venue, eliminating any tax requirements.

For senator Jacob Milich, it was more than just the technicalities that mattered.

“We are setting the precedent that you can use SGA money to raise revenue for your club,” Milich said. “We are paying for the venue, and then they are using that venue to get donations and pay for their half.”

At the end of the night, the majority of the senate body agreed: donations or not, it should not affect how to address this bill.

“They can collect donations to pay for their half of the event … they are not making money off the event, they are offsetting their deficits. This is irrelevant to the bill. We need to look at the bill, if they have more money at the end of the day and they want to donate that’s not something we have to legislate … we can’t tell people not to donate to organizations,” Mariano said.

With a final vote of 28 for and 6 against, the bill passed and the Black Female Development Circle was able to receive funding for the event Stroll Show.