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In its last meeting of the semester, RUSA approves student organization budget allocations and elects the last of its officer positions

Nicholas Pellitta, chair of the board and a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said that the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) has been given more than $1 million from student tuition fees to divey among student organizations. Each organization is allowed to submit approval to have two of their events funded by the assembly next semester. – Photo by Declan Intindola

Yesterday, the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) met for the last time this semester. At its weekly meeting, the assembly elected the last of its internal officer positions.

The meeting began with a presentation of the RUSA Civic Engagement Task Force Report. The report was commissioned by the previous president, Evan Covello, an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy senior, in October 2017.

The purpose of the report was to serve as the primary voice of civic engagement between RUSA and everyone outside of it, according to the report. It researched what Rutgers does to engage its students and promote voting among its populations — as well as how Rutgers compares to other Big Ten schools.

The primary accomplishments of the task force included registering students, at one point as many as 300 per week, running two shuttle buses to bring students to polling locations, organizing an election-season debate among the student political groups and promoting voting on campus. 

RUSA voted to pass the vital allocations funding for the Fall 2018 semester. After hearing a presentation on the bill last week, the funding plan went through the legislative process and became official. 

For the next school year, RUSA has been given more than $1 million from student tuition fees, and its Allocations Board is responsible for distributing it among the many student organizations on campus, said Nicholas Pellitta, chair of the board and a School of Arts and Sciences junior. Each student organization is allowed to have two events funded by RUSA each semester, and must submit requests for this money to the committee for approval.

The Allocations Board reviewed funding requests and compiled all the approved allocations into a bill presented to the assembly. After brief discussion and no open opposition, the bill was passed 23-2 with two voters who abstained. Any organizations seeking further funding or questions can visit the board website or file an appeal with it. 

RUSA also voted on its own budget for the 2018 to 2019 school year. The assembly requires a certain amount of money to finance its operations as well as several school events like "HackRU" and resources for new student organizations. 

The money for this comes from student tuition fees. The budget allocated $154,000 for the next year, with $100,000 being carried over from last year's surplus, Pellitta said. The bill was passed 26-1 with two voters abstaining.

With seniors graduating and positions opening up for re-election, the assembly voted to fill its remaining internal officer positions to move into the fall semester with full leadership. Four remaining positions were up for assignment, including senate leader, academic affairs chair, health and wellness chairs and the University affairs chair. All candidates except those for University affairs ran unopposed. 

Julie Serrano, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, became senate leader with 28 votes in favor and two who abstained. She has been a voting member of RUSA for three years and has been the senate leader for the last two years.

Aneesh Deshpande, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, was re-elected as academic affairs chair. He has worked on multiple RUSA initiatives in the past, including college textbook affordability and has developed strong relations with administrators during his time in the assembly. His nomination was approved with 30 in favor and one abstention. 

Hinita Patel, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, will serve as the new health and wellness chair. A management representative in Rutgers Business Governing Association, she has been involved in many projects promoting student health. Patel was voted in unanimously.

Dominique Little, director of leadership develop for Residence Hall Association and a School of Arts and Sciences junior, has been active within her community to advocate for student rights. She became University affairs chair after a 25-8 vote.       

After elections came to a close, the assembly heard reports from its advisor, external representatives, officers and from the public sector.

The advisor report included mentioning that re-registration is open and has been since March 1. Organizations are expected to have officer positions in place and formally register themselves with the University for the next academic year. Re-registration ends May 1 and more information can be found on the student involvement website

RUSA adjourned its final meeting for the spring semester shortly after 10 p.m. The assembly will begin meeting again during the first week of the Fall 2018 semester.

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