USG town hall discusses funding cuts to student organizations

Members of USG leadership hold a town hall to discuss potential funding policy changes with tier 2 club leaders in the Student Organization Center on Monday, April 17, 2017. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Members of USG leadership hold a town hall to discuss potential funding policy changes with tier 2 club leaders in the Student Organization Center on Monday, April 17, 2017. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

A town hall meeting held by the Undergraduate Student Government allowed student organizations to voice their concerns over proposed funding cuts that would directly affect them.

USG’s recently proposed budget to the Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) projected a deficit of $500,000 in two years, leading USG president Dan Byrd and comptroller Rishita Jani to propose funding cuts to Tier II organizations.

“It sucks and I’m sorry to everyone in this room,” Byrd said of the cuts.

Representatives from club sports including crew, ice hockey, rugby and figure skating teams, as well as UConn Swing and Blues and Formula SAE, spoke at the meeting to vouch for their clubs and provide alternative suggestions to the proposed cuts.

The proposed policies would cut the maximum amount of money an organization can request from USG from $12,000 to $10,000 per semester.

“In all honesty, we can’t afford to give out $12,000 to every group, even the groups that need it,” Byrd said.

Byrd and Jani said that about 35 organizations on campus would be affected by the cut, as they typically ask for over $10,000.

Formula SAE president Nick Jayakar said the proposal hurts the groups that need the money most.

“We need every single dollar we have because that car costs a hell of a lot more than $12,000,” Jayakar said.

If changes are not implemented USG will be unable to function in the next few years.  (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

If changes are not implemented USG will be unable to function in the next few years.  (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Jayakar said Formula SAE is able to have a lot of services provided by sponsors, but quality of the raw materials they purchase for their car would suffer, hurting their performance and competitiveness.

Additionally, in the proposal, coaching costs would be capped at $3,000 per semester, a cut from the current $4,000. Byrd proposed an alternative to the coaching cuts, which would reduce USG funding to contractual services, including coaches and speakers, as well as supplies and equipment to organizations across the board.

Byrd’s alternative would spread cuts across more organizations beyond club sports, typically the only organizations that utilize coaches.

Men’s rugby president Nick Wehrle said he was concerned for players’ safety if cuts were made to coaches.

“I don’t want to have anyone break something because we can’t teach them proper tackling techniques,” Wehrle said.

Reducing the amount of maximum funding from $12,000 to $10,000 would save USG $60,000 per year and reducing coaching caps, or Byrd’s proposed alternative, would save USG about $40,000 per year, according to Byrd and Jani’s estimates.

Byrd also proposed internal cuts to USG to help close the deficit. While Byrd won’t have authority to implement the cuts, as his term as president ends in a few days, he said he’s made the suggestions to president-elect Irma Valverde.

Byrd suggested eliminating USG events like Let Them Eat Cake and finals care packages, as well as reducing student worker wages and holding one banquet per year capped at $7,000, as opposed to the customary two banquets per year.

In the future, Byrd said increasing USG funding from student fees may be the solution to budget troubles. While it’s not realistic right now, as the administration has shown resistance to increasing fees, Byrd said long-term, it might be the best solution, as clubs on campus continue to grow and require more funding. 

The proposed funding policies will be voted on at Wednesday’s USG senate meeting.


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