The Undergraduate Student Government plans to address the possible $800,000 in unspent funding rollover from previous years and will work to reduce the amount by increasing funding for Tier II organizations and internal USG initiatives, USG president Ama Appiah said at the organization’s first press conference of the year Wednesday.
“This is student fee money, and we want to give as accurate information as possible,” Appiah said.
The rollover, Appiah said, is a result of USG underspending due to predictions of overspending from 2017’s and 2018’s USG administrations. As a result, the rollover accumulated over the past two years. The USG Senate discussed this during last week’s Senate meeting when the Spring 2019 budget was passed.
“USG was advised to cut down on spending,” Appiah said. “We spent less money [because of that].”
To remedy this, USG will increase funding for Tier II organizations up to 90-95 percent and will increase focus on USG initiatives, including mental health services and programs for students on campus, Appiah said. USG is also planning to make it easier for Tier IIs to access funding.
“We’re taking steps to evaluate what makes it difficult… for students to [get funding],” Appiah said. “We’re still in the works.”
USG changed its funding policies mid-year to account for the increase in Tier II funding, Appiah said. This, combined with USG’s spring semester expenses, which include initiative funding and pay for funding staff, means the rollover will be closer to $500k to $600k, according to a press release from Omar Taweh, USG’s public relations director.
While Appiah said the press conference was held Wednesday evening to inform students of the situation “as soon as possible,” USG Senator Fabio Saccomanno, a fourth-semester molecular and cell biology major and presidential candidate, said the press conference is disruptive to the joint elections, which are ongoing until Thursday at noon.
“The timing of this press conference is concerning,” Saccomanno said. “The timing, I feel, is more than coincidental. They had all of last week to schedule a press conference. They easily could have pushed it tomorrow.”
Saccomanno, who posted on the Facebook group Buy or Sell UConn Tickets about the issue last week, said his platform is based partly on concerns over the rollover.
“When I see rollover this high, that word needs needs to go out to the students,” Saccomanno said. “It’s indicative of USG spending the student money they are given. They theoretically could’ve not charged student fees [for USG] for this semester.”
Taweh said in an email after the conference that the conference was an “urgent and time sensitive concern” and the timing had nothing to do with USG elections.
“Our budget was presented and passed through the Senate last Wednesday,” Taweh wrote. “Our governing board meets on Sundays, our regularly scheduled [executive] meeting. At our meeting, we came up with specific details regarding the press conference...By Sunday night, the earliest time we could schedule and book for a press conference was either Tuesday or Wednesday. No candidates for any elected positions were involved with any aspect of the press conference.”
Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.