Student leaders use budget committee for transparency, create another group for more open conversation

by Steffi Lee, Editor in Chief

In light of the budget cuts at Simpson College earlier this semester and to keep things transparent, student leaders Alex Severn and Ethan Fredrick are leading a budget committee.

“The budget committee exists in response to the needs of the college to make some tough decisions about where we prioritize our money,” Fredrick, student body treasurer, said.

Fredrick said this budget committee has a goal of allowing different constituency on campus to have a voice.

“Students, faculty, staff and administrators – they’re all on this committee,” he said.

Dr. Allison Wolf, associate professor of philosophy, is chair of the committee. President Jay Simmons is also working with the group to maintain transparency, which he stated as the cuts went into effect.

Their first meeting focused on a general view on what matters to Simpson’s campus. Their goal? Keeping conversations open and constructive.

“It’s just important that students, faculty and staff all see that they have a hand in the decisions that are going to be made and that the decisions are transparent,” Severn, student body president, said.

Severn said he and Fredrick support efforts to strengthen the programming for diversity, cultural centers and housing on campus.

“Every year, as cuts have been necessary, residence life has been consistently cut from,” Fredrick said.

Fredrick said one of their priorities will be to focus on increasing the quality of life in housing.

Severn said conversations on how to maintain transparency on campus has led to a creation of another group – a campus council.

“The idea is to create a larger picture, a larger group of people together, such as members from all areas that we talked about – staff, faculty, students, cabinet and the president as well,” he said. “They will talk about non-budgetary items and getting agenda items out there that we feel is important.”

The campus council’s goal is to advocate for different areas of campus life. It will have around 50 people and Severn said it will help with voicing frustrations and keeping conversations open about any situations at Simpson.

The budget committee will work on a one-year cycle, starting and ending each October of the fall semester. Severn said representatives each year can provide input for the budget this way.

Both Fredrick and Severn said although they are student leaders at Simpson, it’s not always possible to hear about every single concern. While they want to do so, it requires help from students, faculty and staff themselves, they said.

“If any student has any concerns or things that they don’t have, let us know,” Fredrick said.

He hopes they can follow through with providing what the Simpson community needs. Severn said since Simpson’s Student Government Association (SGA) is only a select group of people, they’re prioritizing reaching out beyond their own organization.

“It’s important that we try to represent everyone equally,” Severn said.

The campus council meeting is scheduled for today, and on the following Thursday, the budget committee will be meeting again.