USG proposes controversial funding policies

A special USG Senate was held on April 12 in Student Union Room 104. During the meeting, members voted in favor of allowing culture centers to participate in homecoming events and voted against mentioning Greek life in the budget cut proposal. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

A special USG Senate was held on April 12 in Student Union Room 104. During the meeting, members voted in favor of allowing culture centers to participate in homecoming events and voted against mentioning Greek life in the budget cut proposal. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Proposed changes to the Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) funding policies proved controversial Wednesday night at a special senate meeting, proposing cuts affecting Greek Life and club sports.

The changes were not voted on, but postponed to next week’s senate meeting.

A clause denying USG funding to any organization under the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life was eventually eliminated, but not before several leaders of Greek organizations attended the meeting to voice their disagreement with the clause.

Among the proposed policies’ current wording, spending limits to hire coaches are reduced from $4,000 to $3,000. Additionally, the maximum amount of funding a Tier II organization can request from USG is reduced from $12,000 to $10,000 per semester.

The changes were proposed in light of the Student Fee Advisory Committee’s denial of USG’s initial proposed budget, after a $500,000 deficit was projected.

Many Greek Life leaders called the policy against fraternities and sororities discriminatory.

Edgar Ortiz, former president of Alpha Epsilon Phi, said eliminating Greek Life’s funding eligibility is “looking for the easy way out.”

“Maybe you set some sort of regulatory authority on how much Greek organizations can get any specific semester that’s specific to them,” Ortiz said. “But do not, by any means, as a group, eliminate them in total.”

Interfraternity Council president Ryan Cunniff said it’s a misconception that Greek organizations have significantly more money than other Tier II organizations. Using recent budget numbers, Cunniff calculated his fraternity has $168 to spend per person.

“I’m not entirely sure where this whole notion that we have a lot more money in our budget to spend on our organization is coming from,” Cunniff said.

Many members of USG also found the Greek Life clause problematic.

Eliza Conrad, USG student services chairperson and member of Kappa Alpha Theta, echoed many others when she called the policy discriminatory and said no members of USG that sponsored or wrote the proposed policies were involved with Greek Life.

Andrew Stern, USG chief justice and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said if the policies passed with the Greek Life clause, he would declare it unconstitutional on the basis of discrimination.

USG president Dan Byrd and comptroller Rishita Jani proposed the policies.

Jani said travel and contractual expenses were the most expensive line items on the projected budget, therefore that’s what was cut. Contractual expenses include hiring outside workers such as coaches and speakers. Greek Life was cut because it spends the most on travel and contractual expenses, Jani said.

At the beginning of the meeting, Jani said the policies were not meant to be discriminatory toward fraternities and sororities and she did what she could as comptroller to balance USG’s budget.

“This is not a battle. If looks could kill, I’d be dead right now,” Jani said.

Jani also said she put in many hours of work to get the budget balanced.

“The amount of time I’ve spent on this, I haven’t spent on my schoolwork,” Jani said.

The issue of visibility was also raised.

USG Speaker George Wang motioned to postpone a vote on the proposal on the condition that word is spread to Tier II organizations. Wang said the timing seemed “last minute” and expressed concern that many organizations didn’t know they would be affected by these policies.

At one point in the meeting, Wang asked how many Greek leaders and members of club sports teams heard about the proposed policy changes and no hands were raised. When Wang asked how many people heard about the policies the day of the meeting, everyone’s hand shot up.


Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at schae.beaudoin@uconn.edu.