The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) proposed its budget for the next two years on Wednesday, which included cuts across the board for committees.
USG comptroller Rishita Jani proposed the budget after the Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) informed her USG would be facing a deficit next year if they continued to spend at the same rate.
Jani explained that USG consistently had money left over from semester to semester, leading to a push to increase spending.
“There are certain events that certain committee chairs had approached me about and said, ‘We don’t believe that we should take a cut here,’ but… I felt it best to present the budget as is and to cut the money on certain line items that I thought could be expendable,” Jani said.
The Senate approved an amendment to the budget, providing the Academic Affairs Committee an extra $2,000, in addition to the $10,000 Jani allocated, to prepare care packages for students during finals week.
Sen. Benjamin Murray (ACES) supported the increase in funds for Academic Affairs, saying the care packages are the only significant item in the Academic Affairs budget.
“Care packages are essentially the lifeblood of the Academic Affairs Committee,” Murray said. “It’s pretty much the only thing that Academic Affairs does that really costs money.”
Academic Affairs Chair Ven Gopal proposed the amendment to increase the budget and said he has worked to consistently decrease the budget during his time as chair.
“All other committees are taking hits now… [Academic] Affairs has been taking hits for three semesters now,” Gopal said. “It’s kind of like double-cutting us now because I also lowered the budget again.”
USG president Dan Byrd said if the extra money for Academic Affairs is approved, other committees are more likely to ask for extra money as well.
“We need to change the culture of, ‘We have money, let’s do it,” Byrd said.
When Jani was asked if an increase of $2,000 would seriously affect the budget, she said it would not.
After approving additional funds for Academic Affairs, Sen. Myles Gibbs (Engineering) proposed an amendment to give an extra $2,000 to the Student Services Committee, which he sits on. The amendment failed when put to a vote.
Gibbs said Student Appreciation Day, an annual event organized by Student Services that provides students with free items like t-shirts, sunglasses and water bottles, did not get the funds they requested of $15,000. Instead, Student Appreciation Day was allocated $12,000. Gibbs requested the budget be amended to $14,000.
“I trust [Jani] to be financially conservative. When she says that we can spend $2,000 more on [Academic Affairs care packages], I think amending $2,000 to Student Appreciation Day is appropriate,” Gibbs said.
USG Vice President Irma Valverde said student outreach isn’t only about how much money is spent.
“Let’s stop using the excuse of ‘We’re giving out these things,’ because there’s so many other ways to reach out to students. We shouldn’t be using that as an excuse at all,” Valverde said.
Additionally, USG’s Funding Board, which allocates all money to Tier II organizations, saw a decrease of about $200,000. Last semester, the Funding Board was given $1,000,000, while this semester they were allocated $800,000.
Jani said, ultimately, the budget cuts were made to benefit future semesters of USG.
“We spend hours and hours on training how to transition our officers… We’re not going to just spend now and let next year’s officers and leadership board worry about that cut,” Jani said. “That’s not how we run this organization.”
Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.