USG announces budget cut plan for 2024-25

Nine of the undergraduate programming assemblies will experience budget cuts.

President-elect Bryan Fernandez presented the Undergraduate Student Government’s proposed budget for the 2024-25 term, sharing that USG will likely lose nearly $19,000 from its total allocations this year. (Henry Kofman / Daily Trojan)

The Undergraduate Student Government senate discussed budget allocations for the coming year before tabling the resolution to allow further discussion in future meetings with programming assemblies. 

President-elect Bryan Fernandez and vice president-elect Brianna Sanchez introduced the preliminary budget with the consideration that USG faces a shortfall of nearly $19,000 from what USG ultimately allocated in the 2023-24 school year. USG makes its budget allocations for the year without having the final numbers of enrolled students that are released over the summer.

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The numbers may allow USG to allocate more funding for the spring semester — as occurred this year — but could also result in further cuts if numbers are below expectations. The administration also attributed the funding crunch to the incorporation of the First Generation Student Assembly and the upcoming trial period for the Undocumented Trojan Success Assembly. 

The Student Programming Fee — a $64 dollar fee most undergraduate students pay that funds USG — has not increased since 2015. Vice president Michelle Lu said the fee will not increase until USG sees complete utilization of its funding.

Allocations for the coming year are occurring almost two months earlier than the 2023-24 school year. Last year, the senate approved the USG budget June 20, and Fernandez said the earlier allocation schedule was indicative of an increased pace of activity for the incoming cabinet and an effort to allow the senate time to reconsider the budget and meet with stakeholders.

“The expedited process for this cabinet has been a lot faster than we’ve seen in the past administrations. That’s not only to hit the ground running but we saw that within our cabinet. The day right after we got elected, we had to start cabinet applications that Wednesday,” Fernandez said. 

During the meeting, senators and audience members rose to question cuts made to the allocations of programming assemblies. Nine assemblies saw cuts in funding while three saw increases, and another three saw no change in funding under the proposed budget.

The biggest cuts would come to the Native American Student Assembly, the Environmental Student Assembly and the International Student Assembly, which face a 20%, 13% and 10% cut, respectively. The assemblies seeing funding increases are the Joint Assembly for Military-Associated Students, Political Student Assembly and First Generation Student Assembly — which is in its first year as a full assembly.

Fernandez and Sanchez said they considered unspent funding for programming assemblies as well as intentionality of funding in the past year. They also emphasized a focus on intersectionality — pushing programming assemblies to collaborate and join their events to cut costs.

“When we look at these cuts, it was us looking at ways they can collab more to make this budget work, because, again, there is a lot of space for collaboration between the assemblies,” Fernandez said. “We didn’t cut just to cut. We cut with intention.”

The Performing and Visual Arts Fund as well as the Professional and Academic Fund will also see increases to address their depletion in the first months of the year. 

The Legislative and Administration funds also face significant cuts. The former will shrink from $27,000 to $19,500. Sanchez said this will bring the funding closer to what was spent in the present year, which she said saw heavy use of the fund.

USG’s Executive fund saw a $15,500 dollar increase in funding to pay for the JCPenney Suit-Up Event, another month of sexually transmitted infection testing and the $5,000 budget of the UTSA during its trial period. USG will be funding STI testing at a proportional rate with the Graduate Student Government as opposed to the even split for the original round. 

In their campaign, Fernandez and Sanchez promised one month of free STI testing each semester. Sanchez said budget realities mean they will only provide one month of testing for the whole academic year. 

The senate also heard from chief programming officer Kayla Parayno and Fernandez in his capacity as a senator. Parayno said, this year, USG saw 234 events, including 102 collaborations between programming groups; they said this was an increase from seven collaborative events hosted the previous year.

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