In response to “USG should focus on student spending”
Two days ago I read an article published in the Daily Trojan about how USG should focus on student funding. The opinion piece claims that the procedures a club has to follow to get funding are tough and the money awarded too small to help out student organizations. Besides being riddled with inaccuracies about the workings of USG, the article was deceiving in nature.
It overlooked the 152 student organizations that received funding this year at an average of around $2,000. USG allocates more money to funding boards than any other line item in budget. Anyone that looks at the USG budget can see that the numbers show the opposite of what the article argues: the Undergraduate Student Government indeed does care about funding student clubs and organizations more than any other issue.
My biggest concern with the opinion piece was its misguided criticism. We strive to provide funding in an efficient and fair manner. This means that we need to make sure there is a preset limit on each individual request (this helps us distribute the funds evenly throughout the year).
That being said, we have provided upward of $4,000 to multiple organizations. Our application is thorough because it is our way of vetting events and clubs. We want to give funding to groups and organizations that have taken the time to do the necessary work to receive funding. We know our system works by the thank you notes we receive from student organizations such as Troy Camp, World Vision Acts, Saved by Grace, Net Impact and Society 53, just to name a few.
We are responsible for the students’ money and we work our hardest to make sure it’s being put to good use. Aside from the events that result from funding student organizations, USG’s Program Board puts on events such as Springfest, Conquest and the Welcome Back Concert, as well as brings performers such as Seth Meyers and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and supports other programing that makes every effort to reach a wide variety of groups on campus.
As for recreation sports funding, we have the research and surveys to confidently assert that this is an issue students care about deeply. I do agree with the article that this is a matter far too big for us to handle alone, which is why we strive to work together with the USC administration to fix the problems we see. We have worked closely with the administration to help facilitate construction of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and the new Village at USC, so we know this approach works.
Lastly, I would like to provide insight into several of the criticisms directed toward our organization. The student government retreat, a necessary event from a productivity and efficiency standpoint, only lasts two nights. It is held locally and USG does not pay for any transportation costs. Members share beds at the retreat in order to be cost-efficient.
Also, the presumption that senators have “nothing to do” is simply incorrect. This year has had the most active and engaged senate over the last five years, and they have passed more resolutions than in recent senate history.
In terms of the mechanics of our funding boards, an individual organization is NOT restricted to an individual board. In fact, they can apply to as many as are applicable for their organization. We work hard so that our funding rules provide a flexible approach for organizations to seek money for their events, trips and initiatives.
Overall, I am extremely happy with the success of the organization this past year. The claims found in this article are out of line and they do not reflect our organization. I felt a sense of urgency in responding to the DT piece because it felt more like an arbitrary, biased attack rather than an honest critique.
I know Christian [Kurth] and the 2013-2014 USG administration are very excited to serve the student body, and I know they will continue to follow the imperative legacy of supporting students and student organizations.
Outgoing USG President