In last week’s edition of The Paisano, Kate Kramer published an article entitled “Is Student Government Mismanaging Your Money?” which examined the Student Government Association (SGA) budget from Fall 2013 – Spring 2014. As the former treasurer who designed this budget, I would like to assure the student body that the answer to this question is a firm no.
While I applaud Ms. Kramer’s initiative to examine Student Government’s finances and keep us accountable, her article was lacking in overall context.
To begin with, Ms. Kramer’s expenditure categories are somewhat misleading. While her “Student Outreach” designation contains some of SGA’s events like Finals Study Days and our voter registration drive, she leaves out our two biggest campus-wide events: University Life Awards and Golf Cart Parade.
University Life Awards is an (annual) event celebrating the achievements of Roadrunners across the campus, attended by hundreds of students, faculty and administrators. It is our signature event in the spring, and it engages a wide swath of university constituents.
The Golf Cart Parade is another event catered specifically to the greater student body – this year alone, 35 individual student organizations participated in our Golf Cart Decorating Party. These two events directly benefit our university’s students in a big way and consequently, make up a big portion of the budget.
Even more pressing, Ms. Kramer neglected to designate SGA’s Leaderfund account as part of “Student Outreach.” Leaderfund is a $9,000 account, replenished yearly, earmarked exclusively for reimbursing student organizations that host or attend events that contribute to leadership development at UTSA.
It is one of our main tools for giving student organizations the resources they need to be successful, and it is absolutely a component of our outreach efforts.
With these additions as well as our general and election marketing expenditures, the “Student Outreach” category should actually constitute well over $20,000, more than ten times the number claimed by Ms. Kramer and larger than any other single category of spending. Combine this with the fact that we ran a four-figure surplus, and it becomes clear that SGA is not sacrificing outreach to the students for any reason whatsoever.
Ms. Kramer also purports that 67 percent of the budget covers officer stipends, retreats and leadership development. While these percentages are incorrect to begin with, there is a deeper issue – this lacks all relevant context.
First of all, take the stipends – while not every school in the UT System has the same officer positions, they all have a president and vice president. For these two positions, UTSA’s Student Government paysunder half the average, per student, for the nine system schools.
Consider this: the president of UT Dallas – that’s ONE officer from a school with 10,000 fewer students than UTSA – receives a nominal stipend larger than all FIVE of our SGA officers combined.
When it comes to retreats and leadership development, it is important to note that there isn’t a distinction. SGA retreats are a time when we come together, conduct leadership training and set goals on how to best help the students for the upcoming year. They are an integral part to accomplishing beneficial objectives on behalf of the student body, and it is money well spent.
When presented with the full picture, it is clear that Student Government spends more on student outreach than on anything else, keeps its per-student stipends lower than most other schools in the system and understands its number one priority: you. Rest assured that we are looking out for you, the students, and last year’s budget was no exception.
If you are interested in joining SGA, we meet every Thursday at 5:30p.m. in the Harris Room, and you can email [email protected] for more information.