After USG announced a $48,000 rollover this time last year, we expected to see a much tighter budget in the future. Instead, USG wound up with a whopping $55,000 left over at the end of last semester. This has certainly raised eyebrows, as well as concerns about how USG allocates its money. Students are calling it fishy at best; some have even voiced conspiracy theories – for instance, that this is a ploy by USG’s veteran officers to secure an unforgettable class gift. Whatever rumors may be going around, the fact remains: the USG budget has room for improvement.
USG gets a lot of flak for having extra money at the end of the semester – money that could (and should) have gone toward student organizations and campus programming. USG keeps reminding us that it allocates its funds to these groups, and it’s up to the groups to spend what they are given – so USG is not to blame when students don’t use their funding. At least, that’s what USG would have the campus believe. But after two substantial rollovers in consecutive years, we think it’s time for USG to reevaluate its financial system.
One of the fundamental issues with USG’s current system is that every dollar is assigned a purpose early on, and cannot be used for anything else. This means that if a student group asks for $100 for pizza, and is awarded $100 for pizza, it cannot use any of that $100 for, say, soda. This may be part of the reason behind the rollover – student groups applied early for mass funding, wanting to grab as much as possible, then changed their plans later in the semester and were not able to reallocate the USG funds. Clearly, this system needs to change.
Despite this, USG has so far had an active and positive response to the financial situation. We’re glad to see USG put some of the rollover – $25,000, to be exact – toward the Student Life Improvement Grant (SLIG). This is huge in comparison to years past, in which the SLIG has amounted to around $10,000, making this a great year to do something really big on campus. We’re glad to see USG soliciting student proposals for how to use this year’s SLIG. This is an excellent opportunity for students to make their ideas heard, and we hope they take advantage of it.
We also hope that after the last two rollovers, USG will have learned its lesson, and will change how it budgets its funds in the future. This means not only being transparent, but putting in the time and effort required to determine how better to serve student needs. It’s great that USG is letting students decide how to use the extra money, but wouldn’t it have been preferable for that money to go where it was intended to in the first place – to student groups and programming? If organizations don’t use everything they were given, the funds left over could be recycled the next semester in the form of mass or rolling funding. Why USG hasn’t taken this route remains a mystery, and is a slap in the face to the student groups that didn’t receive the funds they requested last semester. A $55,000 slap in the face, to be precise.