This past year, I became a member of the executive board of a Tier II Organization, which has resulted in my increased exposure to the University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) funding policies. There is one specific policy that I have a major issue with: Section 2.10 of the Tier II Funding Policies. This section states “Only undergraduate, fee-paying students at the Storrs campus may benefit from USG funding. The Funding Staff has the discretion to reduce funding for RSOs based on the percentage of non-student attendance.” This means that funding cannot be used to support philanthropic efforts unless it is entirely used to benefit undergraduate students.
My main issue with this is the fact that undergraduate students benefit from engaging in activities and services that help others, perhaps more than other events a club may host. For example, let’s say an organization wanted to start a program to teach the elderly how to use technology. In addition to benefitting the elderly, students would learn interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills. Due to Section 2.10, even if this activity falls in line with the purpose of the student organization in question, USG would not provide funding for the necessary materials. Since individuals other than undergraduate students at the Storrs campus are benefitting from these services, these initiatives are deemed unworthy of funding under current USG policies.
I understand the sentiment of this funding measure and appreciate the effort to ensure student money goes to benefit students. However, the funding policy could be reworked in such a way that allows for philanthropic activities to be financially supported by USG as long as the money benefits students of an organization in some capacity. Thus, policy changes would allow for activities to benefit students and non students alike. I respectfully urge all USG senators to consider such a change in the funding guidelines.
The suggested change I would make to the policies is to rework section 2.10 to state: “Undergraduate, fee-paying students at the Storrs campus may benefit from USG funding. Events or activities that benefit those who are not undergraduate, fee-paying students at the Storrs campus must show proof of significant benefit to the students in the student organization.” This revision captures the basic idea that such a change would allow organizations to do more with USG money
, while still ensuring students will benefit from funds issues by USG.
As someone who pays money into USG, I would appreciate a systematic push by leadership for organizations to use less of their money for travel and food
, and instead promise additional funding to organizations pursuing community service initiatives. While these events certainly have merit, I would rather my money go to organizations that purchase educational materials for those in need rather than thousands of dollars being spent on ammenities for large student-based events.