ASUU Changes Budget Requirement for Campus Events Board Over Zoom


Senate representatives meet over Zoom to discuss Joint Bill 18. | Screenshot by Natalie Colby and Ivana Martinez

By Natalie Colby and Ivana Martinez


As the Associated Students of the University of Utah predicted a decrease in enrollment and subsequent student fees that fund their budget, they worked to make changes in their allocated funds.

Student representatives called a special session to vote on a proposed bill to decrease funding for the Campus Events Board. The bill would have reduced the mandated percentage of the reserve budget from 15%, as stated in the ASUU Redbook, to a proposed 10% for the board funding. 

The cut would not necessarily reduce the amount of money that the CEB receives, but it would allow the presidency to decide the amount once they create their budget.

Graph created by Nina Castellanos, with information from a CEB presentation.

The assembly altered Joint Bill 18 as 17 representatives voted for the decrease to only be 2%, instead of 5%. The required allocated percentage for the CEB budget is now 13%. 

According to a statement from ASUU president-elect Ephraim Kum on Twitter, Joint Bill 18 was not passed.

The “assembly refused to see it at all and they had to call a special session on Tuesday to consider it,” said Sen. Devon Cantwell. 

However, representatives voted on it again on April 14 and 16 to decide on regulations for the upcoming 2020-21 school year budget.

On April 14, the assembly voted to pass Joint Bill 18. The only representatives who opposed reducing the CEB’s required percentage were Emma Hicks from the College of Social Work, Greg Boisvert (who was proxying for Kendal Smith-Williams) and Tressa Parkes from the College of Architecture.

On April 16, the Senate voted on Joint Bill 18, and it passed unanimously without debate. 

“We also are looking at CEB because there’s not really wiggle room in any other parts of the budget,” said Cantwell in the senate meeting. “Additionally, the amount in the reserve account for CEB is higher than the general reserve and will have at least $200,000 in it.” 

The CEB is in charge of student events such as Conference on Diverse Excellence, Red Week and concerts for students. The CEB is one of the few organizations that have their own reserve fund, which allows them to keep rollover excess funds to the next school year. 

According to the CEB in a presentation earlier this year, $78,991 of allocated funds were spent on the fall homecoming concert featuring Jessie McCartney and Dallas Wayde. Only 1,475 out 32,818 students showed up to the concert. 

Kum said in the Senate meeting that the CEB isn’t likely to host a fall concert during the upcoming school year. Cantwell pointed out in the Senate meeting that, even with significant cuts, their board would still have substantial amounts of money combined with their rollover to hold events next year.    


The Assembly Meeting

Over 12 student organizations on campus called in to share their support for the original bill, including Nina Castellanos, a diversity scholars peer mentor through the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs.

Abhiijith Harikumar, a student studying information systems, has heavily advocated for Joint Bill 18. He is strongly opposed to the amount of discretionary spending in ASUU and says that concerts and movie theatre buy-outs — which are under the CEB’s purview — are fun but do not reflect students’ needs at this time.

“It’s mind-boggling that this cut hasn’t happened sooner. But now that we are in a pandemic, this is even more necessary,” Harikumar said. 

Boisvert was against cutting the CEB budget. He said that the CEB has steadily been receiving cuts over the last couple of years, and it is one of the most important boards on campus. 

Boisvert said that through partnership, the CEB helps to fund and staff things such as MUSE, Student Wellness, Student Success and many other boards and departments across campus.

A graphic presented at a CEB presentation during the 2019-2020 school year.

“The Campus Events Board is one of the most influential boards that ASUU has,” he said, “It sets a huge standard for what students can both expect of their school and of their government, thus making sure it can have adequate funding is critical. They also serve as a monetary, leadership and personnel support role for all other internal ASUU boards.”

Boisvert said many people are simply unaware of what the CEB and other executive boards do, which is highlighted by the fact that the board can legally not talk about these finances. 

“This ignorance leads to legislators not knowing the impact of their cuts. So how does this lead to contention? Basically, the legislature thinks that if you give them more money, they can do their job better,” he said. 

During the assembly meeting, Harikumar tweeted his frustrations with those opposing the budget changes.

He said that students not in ASUU who knew what was at stake supported the bill.

“I absolutely do not believe that the assembly reps acted in the interest of students in their respective colleges. A few assembly reps mentioned that they had constituents who were opposed to the CEB cuts, but it doesn’t sound like those constituents knew that it was at the expense of support resources,” he said. 

Harikumar said that the changes made to the bill are not ideal. 

“I felt this was ultimately more harmful,” he said, “The way this bill was passed makes it more difficult to allocate funds for student groups and essential support resources than if it was just passed normally.”

While the assembly discussed the bill, Harikumar said some representatives argued that students rely on these campus events to form friendships and bonds. 

“I’m sorry that y’all don’t know how to make friends outside of a concert, but there’s literally marginalized groups dying,” he said. “Student organizations are far better at forming campus bonds than CEB events. If you talk to virtually anyone who is a non-traditional student, they feel completely excluded by CEB programming.”

The budget for the academic school year must be approved prior to the Board of Trustees meeting In June. Therefore, despite the extenuating circumstances of COVID-19, the incoming ASUU representatives will approve the budget this spring.


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Editor’s note: Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, tiredness and shortness of breath. These symptoms are believed to occur between two and 14 days after a person is exposed to the disease. If you have these symptoms and have recently come into contact with a person who is known to have COVID-19, or if you have recently traveled to an area with community spread of the disease, you should call your doctor. Areas with community spread of COVID-19 are believed to include China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Seattle. If you do not have a doctor who you visit regularly, please call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 or the University of Utah Health hotline at 801-587-0712. Do not go to a healthcare facility without first making arrangements to do so.

This article has been updated with several corrections. The graphics were not created by Nina Castellanos, but presented at a prior CEB presentation. Nina Castellanos is not the director of CESA, but a diversity scholars peer mentor. The budget will be approved this spring by ASUU, not delayed until fall. The statement from Ephraim Kum, president-elect, did not state that the bill initially failed to pass, but that it was not passed. A quote from Devon Cantwell was added to clarify the reasoning behind the bill’s delay.