Want to know how student government spends YOUR money? Good luck

Wasteful spending and lack of transparency is how SGA keeps YOU in the dark

Editorial Board

A stated mission of serving “YOU, the student body,” comes with a hefty price tag. The Student Government Association (SGA) at UTSA has long portrayed itself as a benevolent organization serving the interests of and advocating on behalf of the student body. However, similar to other governments at all levels, the SGA has become increasingly less transparent in their practices and how they spend their budget. 

SGA derives its budget from the Student Services Fee, which comes out to $16.18 per semester credit hour, with a maximum of $194.16 per semester per student. Students are not given a choice on whether or not they will contribute financially to the SGA, and the massive budget allocated for the SGA is handed to them on a silver platter year after year, with few questions asked. Students are not given a breakdown of how their money is spent by this organization as the budget on the organization’s website has not been updated since 2019. This action  — inadvertent or not — shields the organization’s finances from the public eye. 

Additionally, the students that SGA represents cannot see the laws this organization abides by, as the SGA by-laws have also not been updated since 2019 despite numerous revisions

Recently, The Paisano received a copy of the SGA’s 2022-2023 budget, accounting for all of the documented expenses the organization has incurred from August 2022 to February 2023. In our review of the document, many wasteful and questionable expenditures have come to light. These include but are not limited to: $1,138.95 for SGA promotional lapel pins, $890.05 for SGA senator notebooks, $958.50 for SGA polos, $4,959.00 for other SGA promotional items including pens, water bottles, snack bags and tote bags, $2,235.00 for SGA storefront painting, $1,027.49 for travel expenses and a total of $4,900 for officer stipends. A majority of these fees would require other organizations to self-fund or fundraise to cover, especially those related to travel reimbursement or promotional merchandise. 

While they claim to be serving “YOU, the student body,” it is clear that the SGA is serving no one but themselves and using your money to do it, all while maintaining an abysmally low voter turnout percentage of less than 1.5%. Why should students fund their promotional items, lapel pins, notebooks or stipends when we are given no insight into how our forced contributions are being spent? Why should UTSA students feel that SGA represents the interest of every student, when less than 600 people participate in their elections, with very little sign that the organization is displeased with this trend? The SGA needs to be reformed. They are an organization that wastes university resources and blatantly disregards any form of transparency or accountability. UTSA deserves better. 

You can find sources to voice your opinion about SGA at https://www.utsa.edu/sga/contact-us.html.