Bierman addresses SGA

Shannon Norris

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 Tuesday’s Student Government Association (SGA) meeting established Joe Reinert to the position of the council of Student Activity Funds and Garret Convington to the position of Senator At-Large.

 Stephanie Russel appeared as one of the many guest speakers. She discussed opportunities for potential Discover Western and Experience Western volunteers as well as other opportunities for introducing students to Western Illinois University.

 Matt Bierman, Budget Director, and John Biernbaum, Associated Vice President of Student Services, were also present at the meeting to discuss Western’s current financial standings.

 Some of the challenges that the university is facing included a 25 percent decrease in student enrollment since 2006, which is linked to the cost of attending now as well as our faculty to student ratio having an increasing gap with the number of students declining.

 “We have to make sure our faculty staff needs are aligned with our student body needs within programs as well as overall as a campus,”
Bierman said.

 Bierman explains how cutting faculty to compensate for the lack of students would be beneficial to the current budget crisis.

 “When we cut any personnel it reduces the overall expenditures from the university, which helps in this financial climate when we have diminishing financial resources. When we have less revenue we have to figure out how to have less expenses and one of the ways is to reduce staff.”

 The athletic department was constantly up for debate on rather the university should be making cuts to that department instead of the staff. Bierman was quick to defend the athletic department stating that the staff made up 80 percent of the university’s budget and that it would be more in the student’s favor that the athletic department did not receive cuts.

 “I think that athletics actually contribute to the university through the experience and through the marketing that we get from them and from the students that come here and are paying college athletes,” Bierman said, “meaning that we are not paying them, but they are paying full tuition or partial tuition to come and be a Division I athlete and that adds value to the institution so I think that it’s very short-sighted to think that athletics is something that can go away and it would have little to no impact.”

 Bierman provided a 15 slideshow presentation demonstrating that faculty made up the larger portion of the budget and how despite receiving some increases in the athletic department it will still be inefficient to make cuts to such a smaller department.

 “Even if we reduced athletics because of the regulatory compliances it would be very difficult to do that and even to suggest that we can have meaningful impact on the budget is going to have an impact on the student experience,” Bierman said.

 Bierman also provided projected student fees for the 2017 fiscal year based on a 3 percent decrease in student enrollment. The estimated Revenue for FY17 totaled to $20,696,857.

 In other news, on Feb. 17 Govener Brauner will be addressing the budget crisis.

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