Op-Ed: The Comptroller is the most impactful position in USG. Here’s why you should run for it.

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Fabio Saccomanno is the current Comptroller of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG).

You may ask: “What does the Comptroller do?” 

My answer: “Everything.” 

The Comptroller is elected to an annual term by the undergraduate student body each March. The Comptroller is responsible for managing USG’s budget, which is entirely funded by a semesterly $45/student fee. Per the USG Constitution, “The Comptroller shall oversee all financial matters of the organization and shall ensure that all expenditures of the Undergraduate Student Government are in accordance with Undergraduate Student Government policy and any applicable laws and regulations.” While the role requires a familiarity with common accounting and financial procedures, these can be learned. Friendly reminder—I am a pre-med Molecular and Cell Biology student who prior to this role, had no experience with finances. 

As an elected representative, each Comptroller has the duty to ensure the satisfaction of the entire undergraduate student body. In addition, the elected nature of the position gives the Comptroller the express authority to execute their vision. These are two sacred responsibilities that each Comptroller must take seriously and humbly. 

The most important job the Comptroller fills is overseeing and enforcing the funding policies that USG uses to fund Tier-II Student Organizations. This job is the one upon which I have focused most of my vision: To make Tier-II Funding as fair, transparent, and straightforward as possible, and to raise USG’s image on campus with student-centered events and initiatives. Over the course of my two terms, I feel I have successfully achieved my vision. Of particular note: 

  • I raised all the percentage caps to 95%, irrespective of whether a group holds tryouts or collects dues.  
  • I led the switch to an annual funding system, allowing groups to access up to $20k in funding throughout the academic year. 
  • I implemented the second chance funding policy, enabling groups who miss deadlines to receive funding up to 50% of what they would have received normally. 

The majority of students know USG because of Tier-II Funding. Funding is, by far, our largest annual expense, nearing or eclipsing $1 million annually. The Comptroller sets the mood and tone of funding for the duration of their term: I have been sympathetic and lenient with missed deadlines and other matters, but the next Comptroller may not.  

I believe that I found success in this role because I was a former Tier-II president. At that time, the funding policies were awful—in every sense of the word. Since then, my predecessor brought sweeping change to the policies, resulting in much-needed improvements. When I was elected, I refined them. This history illustrates how USG funding is an ongoing process. If you are dissatisfied with the funding status quo, running for Comptroller, as I did, is the way to make the changes you feel are necessary. If you are happy with the way things are, running for Comptroller gives you the authority to ensure things stay this way. 

Teamwork is integral to the success of the Comptroller. During my terms, I have been fortunate to work alongside a truly dedicated and reliable Funding Staff Supervisor, Erin McConnell, along with an equally diligent Funding Student Staff. Chief Diversity Officer Damani Douglas, former President Joshua Crow, Speaker of the Senate Luis Toscano, and former Deputy Comptroller Stuart Allen have also been instrumental in helping to identify issues in the funding policies and to author legislative solutions for them. In addition, many of the coolest initiatives I have allocated funding and negotiated contracts for, some of which include the Wall Street Journal and New York Times subscriptions, the Cultural Development Series, and the mental health and wellbeing app Talkspace, have all been brought forward by USG’s extremely dedicated Advocacy Directors. Finally, consent and trust from the Senate is absolutely necessary to accomplish anything. Plainly put: You must have a strong relationship with colleagues throughout USG to be a successful Comptroller. 

Historically, the Comptroller’s election has been notoriously uncompetitive. Perhaps the role seems daunting, but take my word for it: If you have a commitment to serving our peers well, you will succeed. Considering the direct impact that the Comptroller has on Tier-II activities, I hope to see a competitive election this March. For example, it was I who pushed USG to be more cautious than the University when approaching COVID-related funding restrictions. It was also I who decided to restrict funding for travel, back in March 2020, before the State of Connecticut even implemented travel restrictions. The next Comptroller will certainly be tasked with making decisions that similarly affect the entire undergraduate student body. 

In summation, the Comptroller is a vitally important role in USG, a leader who wields a significant degree of influence over the activities of student organizations. Whether you like or dislike the vision I have implemented during my terms; if you made it to the end of this article, you should run for Comptroller. 

The Spring 2021 election will be held from noon on March 02 to noon on March 04. The Intent to Run Form is due February 08 at noon. More information about the election may be found here: usg.uconn.edu/elections 

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions about my role: comptroller@usg.uconn.edu. I also host open, virtual office hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 11:15 am and 12:15 pm—see the “COVID-19 USG Funding Updates” page at usg.uconn.edu to access my office hours. 

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