On April 12, the University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government’s leadership recommended deep cutbacks to funding for student organizations, specifically Greek Life and club sports. Comptroller Rishita Jani and President Dan Byrd made the correct, if unpopular decision in this case. The questions of why their choice was necessary and why it hasn’t been made official yet, though, must be discussed.
If USG did not make these decreases in funding, they would be facing a half a million-dollar budget deficit. The Daily Campus’ coverage of the town hall event detailing USG’s plan to the public and to fellow senators makes that clear enough: “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.”
That’s not a budget that can realistically be accepted. It seems USG’s spendthrift days have caught up to them. In 2015, the Daily Campus reported, “Funding for student organizations was allocated an extra $50,000 Wednesday by the Undergraduate Student Government, bringing the total available to student organizations to $800,000 and sending USG’s operating budget into a deficit.” This sort of saw taken to spending was inevitable once USG got carried away with their budgetary power.
All roads led to yesterday, when USG had a second chance to formally reduce club sports and Greek Life budgets. Since Greek Life and club sports representatives were in attendance at the town hall last week, they were able to offer their objections to the cuts – which would lower the maximum amount of money a Tier II organization can request of USG from $12,000 to $10,000 – and some senators, especially Greek Life senators, were receptive to their concerns.
Andrew Stern and Eliza Conrad, namely, helped remove a clause from the possible policy that would withhold “USG funding to any organization under the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life,” per The Daily Campus. Greek Life senators inherently harbor a conflict of interest in this debate, and cannot make dispassionate judgments.
Amid this controversy is the fact that George Wang was made to move to table the vote until a later date, as Tier II institutions were not given much notice on last week’s town hall. While this is unfortunate, Wang, like Byrd and Jani, exhibited veteran guidance in allowing Tier II students more time to mobilize.
The time has come for USG to resolve its impending deficit and commit to significantly slicing the budget. What an uncertain time it is.