Cole Bergman reviews the list of estimated club expenses at the first senate meeting of the year on August 28. | Photo by Elijah Greene ’25

The Wabash Student Senate has been one of the hottest topics of campus conversation during the first few weeks of the semester, specifically, the Audit and Finance Committee (AFC). National Act, new clubs and heightened budget requests have been at the forefront of student discussion at Wabash.

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, recent student governmental bodies within the Senate have pushed for clubs and committees to plan and hold a multitude of events that improve the student experience. However, there is only so much money to allocate.

During the first Senate meeting of the year, the meeting extended for such a long time that Senators motioned to end the meeting and continue financial recommendations at the next meeting. In the second meeting of the year, Student Body Treasurer William Grennon ’24 came ready with a new system in place to efficiently vote on budget requests.

“I felt like I was able to implement some small changes to how we format and present AFC recommendations that paid off in efficiency at the second meeting of the Senate this past Monday,” said Grennon. “With around 14 tabled budgets from the prior week’s meeting, I was grateful we were able to present and eventually approve all the tabled budgets along with the numerous new budgets AFC received in the week following the first Senate meeting.”

During this week’s meeting, 26 clubs and committees requested a total of $53,282.57, excluding the National Act Committee’s $65,000 request. AFC utilized a tiered system that put budget requests into three confidence levels based on the historical nature of the request, AFC’s personal recommendation and the level of expected discussion for each request. Although the tiered system created an efficient process for the high-confidence recommendations, the lower-confidence recommendations still required significant discourse.

“As a Senate, we are trying to create fair and equitable determinations on what can and can’t be allocated this year to ensure a balanced budget,” said 2024 Class Representative Gavin Hill ’24. “Inflation has affected everyone, and our budget remains the same. This can be a difficult realization as clubs try to spend more money than last year to simply be able to perform at the same level they did the prior year.”

The highest-spending committee in the 2023-24 school year will be the National Act Committee. National Act has been a contentious topic over the past two years, but Student Senate elected to provide an extra $5,000 to the typical $60,000 allocated. 

“As a National Act committee, we know that we are not going to make everyone happy,” said National Act Committee Chairman Lewis Dellinger ’25.

“There are loud voices around campus that are always extremely critical of National Act, which is completely fine. What I want those voices to know is that we are listening to them. We have heard what they have had to say about the previous National Acts and we are changing many different aspects to make this National Act the best possible. I would just ask them to trust our committee because we are aware of what this year holds for the future of National Act, and I have full confidence it is going to rock.”

This year, the National Act committee has announced a change of venue, stating that the concert will be taking place outside, but refusing to specify where outside.

“Without releasing too much information, I can say that we have settled in on a venue we like, we have a list of possible artists we will be offering here soon and we have a new idea that we are going to implement this year,” said Dellinger. “As of right now, we cannot explicitly say what it is going to be, but I can say it is going to be extremely competitive among our student body and will bring in more bodies to National Act than ever before.”

During discussions surrounding the additional funds that were requested by the National Act Committee, senators brought up concerns that they have.

“Personally, I am not a fan,” said Hill. “I don’t feel that throwing money at the problem of National Act will be beneficial. We accept many risks when we spend large amounts on one event. I believe strongly that the National Act Committee will reform their duties to ensure a great National Act, while being aware of the risk at hand to ensure the event runs smoothly.”

Although the semester has just begun, the first two meetings of Student Senate are showcasing what will be the top priority for both students and senators. More discussions will surely arise as more budgets continue to be submitted.