USG betrayed student trust 

Hundreds of UConn students protested against the State’s proposed budget for the University’s next two years in front of the steps of Connecticut’s Capitol building in Hartford, Conn. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. After rallying outside, the protest moved into the Legislative Office Building as UConn President Radenka Maric spoke in the budget appropriations committee meeting answering questions about her and the University’s stance. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk/The Daily Campus.

As many know, last week, the University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government organized a #SaveUConn rally at the Capitol Building in Hartford to protest Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget for the university. Yet, even though USG and the university president made a big deal about this issue, they misled the students. This is because the university’s budget allotted to them by the state isn’t even being cut. A statement by the governor’s office also said that “Governor Lamont is proposing to increase state spending for UConn by $23.7 million over base appropriations and transfers in the most recent biennial budget.” The state budget allotted for UConn is being increased, yet USG felt the need to protest that — a fact that I find incredibly odd. It was absolutely wrong for USG to ask the students to protest based on simple misinformation. 

In reality, what happened is, as UConn President Maric stated, “the governor’s budget would leave the university with a shortfall of $159.6 million next year and $197.1 million the following year compared to the budget requests made by UConn and UConn Health.” The key word is ‘requests,’ indicating that the state didn’t actually cut their budget for UConn; rather, they didn’t give the university the total amount requested. The more apt comparison is the governor’s proposed budget versus the previous year’s budget as opposed to the governor’s proposed budget versus what UConn asked for.  

Governor Lamont went on in his statement to say, “UConn’s leadership is aware that the funding they are talking about is one-time federal emergency COVID aid that was never intended to last forever.” Just to review, the state increased UConn’s budget; however, COVID-19 aid decreased, which makes complete sense given it was for emergencies. However, USG still convinced many students to protest getting more money. The state increased the amount of money given to UConn, and any decreases come at a federal level. That isn’t to say the blame should be on the federal government, as the decrease is justified given that the money was intended to address the pandemic. However, this solidifies the point that the governor did nothing wrong in the sense that he did not cut the existing budget. 

This issue highlights the larger issue of misinformation and people being willing to accept and act on misconstrued knowledge. USG either chose to ignore that fact, or further spread misinformation onto students, completely taking advantage of the trust we put into them as representatives. They essentially facilitated a protest against the people increasing UConn’s budget and spent money doing so. According to a USG Instagram post, they bought students box lunches, provided free transportation, held an after party and gave out 800 T-shirts to students. Because of the fact that this entire protest was pointless, the fact that USG approved $37,000 for the #SaveUConn campaign is ridiculous. USG funds are paid for by students, and by spending them on a useless cause, they have not only violated student’s trust by spreading misinformation, they’ve improperly used our money on something that doesn’t benefit us. 

Overall, USG has violated student’s trust. They utilized us to protest a budget change that benefited students, either knowingly or without having researched the facts, both of which are extremely problematic. They further utilized the money given to them by students to do so. While their effort was in the best of intentions, people should reconsider putting trust in an organization that quite clearly let down the student body. As a new student to UConn, it has become clear to me that USG is a problematic institution that I don’t trust to best represent my interests.  

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