By Oct. 15, the Undergraduate Student Government, USG, had used $20,000 of emergency funding from requests from student organizations. Each semester, there is a total of $40,000 allotted for such requests, and there has never been so much funding approved so early in the year. Typically, USG approves about $24,000 for legislative requests in one semester.
The Undergraduate Student Government at the time was also running a $6,000 deficit. According to chairman Stephen Porcello, this deficit is minimal compared to the entire budget. The increase in emergency funds used is being attributed to the increase of transparency and greater accessibility from USG. Making student organizations aware of the existence of emergency funds is always a good start for such transparency and accessibility, but now all student organizations are more compelled to request an increase in funds rather than manage as they’ve done in previous years.
The senators are asked to verify that funding requests were not submitted during regular applications. However, the UConn chapter of American Society of Consultant Pharmacists have already requested and been approved for $6,000 for their yearly national meeting and $700 was approved for the Women’s Lacrosse Club for a tournament next semester.
Undergraduate Student Government should have expected a rise in requests for emergency funding and need to better coordinate their actions on such approvals. Having spent half the allotted budget for such requests at the midway point of the semester is not necessarily a good sign for what’s to come. Funding for an expansive group of organizations should not be measured over time.
Additionally, giving one group $6,000 and another $700 might not sit well with other organizations, especially those who wouldn’t apply or need emergency funding until the end of the semester. At which point, they will receive a marginal amount or none if funds end up becoming depleted.
This could potentially lead to a greater increase in requests for emergency funds as student organizations attempt to maximize their funding request before it runs out.
As an alternative, the senate could vote to allocate a set percentage of emergency funds available to each student organization to prevent one organization from using up a larger percentage of the emergency funds and prevent funds from running out before the semester closes out. This would inevitably prevent organizations from requesting funds and being denied despite it being their only request during the semester.
At the end of the day, USG has a responsibility to uphold in how it manages student funds and allocates them to student organizations. Emergency funding is a part of that, and the current situation should encourage USG members to put in place policies to ensure emergency funding is sufficiently available for student organizations in the future.