This article was first published in the August 21 print edition of The Tower, a new project of The Wendt.
Trinity University’s Student Government Association (SGA) ended the year with a bang last year as we voted on the final budget proposals for all University Student Organizations (USOs). USOs are organizations whose budget and existence is guaranteed by administration–groups like SGA, Greek Council, and the Trinity Diversity Connection.
These groups requested an abundance of funds (a 14 percent increase from the five-year average), and although SGA was thankfully able to cut a lot of the fat, we’re still left with an astronomical USO budget for the year, which leaves Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) with slim pickings.
Although the exact number has not been released yet due to the change in the Student Activity Fund (SAF) every year, the amount that RSOs have to request from has historically been going down by $20,000-$15,000 each term for the past couple of years.
This is an issue, and one that not many are aware of. As a Class of 2021 SGA Senator, I have seen first-hand how many students at Trinity see the SAF as a bottomless pit of cash, and forget that these funds are finite and come from our own students’ pockets. $150 per student, per semester, are what make up the SAF.
What does this all mean for an incoming student at Trinity, and why should anyone outside of SGA care? Well, the amount of money that RSOs can request affects nearly everyone on campus, as virtually every student on campus is a part of some club or organization. This year, more RSOs will be denied funding for their events, and that means fewer opportunities for students on campus.
The solution to this problem is by no means simple, as many of the reasons why USOs are requesting so much money are out of the students’ hands (such as the fact that Bell Center student employees are being paid from the SAF, which is a controversial and hotly debated issue). I genuinely believe that last semester’s SGA worked very hard to pass a tight budget for USOs, but it could always be better.
This means looking with a more fiscally conservative lens at all requests, both USO and RSO. Cutting large-scale items (such as a spring concert that we cut entirely from Student Programming Board (SPB)) and smaller-scale items are equally important and necessary, especially as clubs request more and more funds. In addition, leaders of these student groups must also look more critically at why they are requesting funds, and how much, as well as trying to search for money elsewhere before coming to SGA. It would be nice to say yes to every request that comes through the door, but it isn’t feasible.
First-year students who are fiscally conservative: I urge to you to consider running for SGA this November, and to keep up with the goings-on in our meetings. They are free for anyone to attend (held Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in the Waxahachie room), and the Trinitonian publishes a weekly update about the meetings both in print and online. Student government is vastly important, and will affect many of your day-to-day activities here at Trinity—stay informed.