Thomas talks finance at SGA

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Thomas talks finance at SGA

Liv Smith

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas speaks to the Student Government Association (SGA) Tuesday night. He fields questions about Western’s financial situation from Interfraternity Council Senator Mark Lahtinen and Attorney General Aaron Terrile.

Kirsten Edmunds

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Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas opened the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting with an update on what’s going on with the school’s financial status.

“As you all know, this is the second year where we have not gotten a state appropriation,” Thomas said. “We’ve got what they call stopgaps, and I am told that we may continue to get stopgaps. Hopefully we will get a full budget at some point, which is very much needed. It really hinders us in terms of our planning and reaching the goals we have set in our strategic planning when we do not get funding from the state.”

Thomas said the university is thankful to have received an increase in the Monetary Awards Program (MAP).

“We are very pleased that they want to increase MAP funding by 10 percent, because it has really helped our students,” Thomas said. “We have about $11 million per year that we get for our students in terms of MAP funding. About thre thousand students are MAP eligible, about 2,700 actually receive MAP funding, and as the administration we have covered MAP funding last year, but each semester for our students hoping that we would get the funding back. We have gotten some of the funding back, well all of it basically, except for this semester. We had to cover it again because we want to make sure that students are able to have access to a quality education.”

He said the administration is looking for other ways to help students.

“We are trying to make sure that education is more affordable. We know that is a challenge for you as students. Many of our students come from lower social economic backgrounds, and this past freshman class that came in, we had about a little over 1500 students, about 42 percent of those are first generation college students. So we know we have a lot of students that are in need so we try to make sure that education is affordable.”

The student enrollment for the fall 2017 semester dropped by nearly 500 students. Thomas said the university is taking the necessary steps to boost back the numbers.

“Our enrollment has dropped a little from the 10,000 to about 9,469 students,” Thomas said. “We are working diligently about these issues. We want to at least keep our enrollment around 10,000 students or more if possible.”

Dance Marathon (DM) last semester came in as guest speakers during the Nov. 29 SGA meeting, asking the group for a donation, as they have in previous years. An SGA Bill of Appropriation 2016-2017.012 was created by co-authors IFC Senator Mark Lahtinen, Director of Finance Samir Almhiemid, and Attorney General Aaron Terrile stating SGA will donate $600.

“If the senate does chose to vote ‘Yes’ to send this money to Dance Marathon, your money will not go unseen, or unheard of,” said Terrile, the Vice President of Finance for DM, “Something that we like to do is buy really cool swag items. Something we want to do potentially is, if SGA does sponsor us, use SGA’s money to provide a load of really cool Dance Marathon purple and gold socks. (SGA) would get a huge sign saying ‘SGA sponsored these items’ or something like that. That’s what we are hoping to do with SGA’s money.”

Their vote was unanimously passed to donate the $600 to the DM organization. Lahtinen, the Director of Activities for DM, said he is happy with SGA’s support.

“It leaves a really good feeling in your heart,” Lahtinen said. “Just knowing that SGA supports (DM) and the goal to achieve all this for the kids. This will help us in a lot of ways.”


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February 22, 2017 at 08:55AM

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Thomas talks finance at SGA

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