Student participation down 33 percent at SGA-funded events

By Sarah Stubbs 

Contrary to recent rumors on campus, the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Jason Derulo concert this September has had zero impact on the recent trend in cutting and or denying of budget requests set forth by University of Findlay clubs and organizations, according to Dave Emsweller, VP of student affairs. 

SGA President Forrest Miller and Emsweller said that SGA has been closely tracking student participation at SGA-funded events and overall participation is down this year by an average of 33 percent; therefore, budget cuts are usually recommended based off of an anticipation of a participation decrease of 33 percent. 

According to Emsweller, the Derulo concert was funded by money set aside by SGA over the past two years based on votes. SGA told the Pulse in September that 3,000 ticket sales would have reduced the cost student government planned for the event, but falling short of 3,000 ticket sales would not result in a monetary loss. 

“The amount of money available to SGA to allocate this semester was virtually identical to last fall. There was no reduction to the amount available,” Emsweller said. “Granted, we wanted to sell more tickets but it had no impact on their budget. That was something I wanted to make sure of.” 

In regard to budget-cutting and stipulating, Emsweller said “budgets aren’t just approved.” 

“SGA has a responsibility to carefully look at budgets and question the group if something looks excessive,” Emsweller said. 

The University of Findlay Ohio Student Education Association’s (OFOSEA) annual pumpkin painting event is a recent example of one such budget-cut. 

Last year, SGA allocated $4,822 to UFOSEA for this event and 410 people participated. The event was so popular in 2015 that they ran out of pumpkins and T-shirts early in the night. This year, however, SGA decided to allocate $4,264. 

“They wanted 500 long sleeve T-shirts. We cut it 300. After conversation with them, we upped it to 375. They had 340 in attendance,” Miller said. “They were actually sending organization members into the residence halls to pull people in for the event. They had 150 leftover pumpkins and about $200 worth of acrylic paint left over from the event.” 

This is just one example of several events that have seen a decrease in student participation, despite the popularity the event may have had in years’ past. 

Welcome Week and All Greek Recruitment are other events that experienced a decrease in student attendance. 

Despite the freshman class being about only 150 students fewer than last year’s freshman class, Miller said SGA invested $10,00 more in Welcome Week this year than they did last year. Welcome Week 2016 had 1,500 less students than Welcome Week 2015. 

All Greek Recruitment was a collection of events that happened early in the semester, Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, that also saw a decrease in student attendance. For all three days combined, SGA invested $6,998.04 only to see 175 students participate. All Greek Recruitment ended up costing $39.99/person. 

Sigma Kappa Kappachinos, an event that has been popular over the last couple of years and will be on Dec. 2 this year, has had its budget cut as well. 

“They cut my budget from 350 crewnecks to 300 crewnecks,” Michelle Boysel, Sigma Kappa officer, said. 

SGA has allocated $3,091 for the sorority’s event, last year they received $3,917 and had an attendance of 450. 

As to why less students are coming out to events this year, Miller isn’t sure why there is such a decrease. 

“We have a smaller [freshman] class size this year. They said it’s the smallest class size they’ve had in 12 or 15 years. It shouldn’t’ be a 30-35 percent decrease, though,” Miller said. “The number of students living on campus this year vs. the number of students living on campus last year is almost identical.” 

Emsweller said that the lack of participation might be just the fact that students are increasingly busy, but it could be a result of a lack of diversity in program ideas. Miller echoed this. 

“Everybody insists that an event doesn’t have food and T-shirts it’s not an event. A lot of organizations have come to me asking, ‘What are things that we can do?’ and when I give them options that aren’t free T-shirts and food, they’re not interested,” Miller said. 

Miller and Emsweller hope that student organizations will become more creative and open minded in brainstorming events and programs. 

Emsweller said he hopes to talk-up creating new programs at the training event offered at the start of each semester, Board of Presidents. He said he would rather see 50 smaller programs happen on campus in a semester rather than two or three large ones. 

“We want to see some new and different programs proposed. Think what you can do even if you asked for a few hundred dollars. SGA isn’t opposed to allocating the funds but it does get disheartening when people jump to conclusions,” Emsweller said. “They’re just asking for it to be responsible.”

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