Photo courtesy of SGA

The Student Government Association (SGA) should not be a sponsored organization. As a former member, let me tell you why.

SGA is given a budget of $58,000 (paid for by student fees) every year. They say this is necessary, but their largest contributions to campus life are typically either crowdfunded or were programs created by UTSA administration – not driven by students. Most of their budget goes to campus events and their own membership. In a campus culture that is far less student-focused than it could be, student government should be representing their constituents – they literally call themselves the “voice of the students” – but even as an organization with a large amount of recognition and access to many tools and resources on campus, they are remarkably ineffective. They act more like an extension of UTSA faculty and administration than student representatives, and other student boards at UTSA have done much more with much less – the Business Student Council, College of Science Dean’s Student Board and the Honors Leadership Council are just a few examples.

SGA should not be funded by students unless they can prove they are using that money for students – all of that money.

In 2017-2018 SGA expenditures include: $12,775 on a members-only retreat; $2,617.50 on a members-only banquet;$1,500 on a leadership-building workshop for the executive team. The year prior, some expenditures included $8,350 for a retreat; $3,750 for an executive member retreat; $2,617.50 on a members-only banquet.

The most extreme unrelated expenses occurred during the administration of Ileana Gonzalez in the 2014-15 year. Not only did Gonzalez and the four members of her executive team go on an exclusive trip to Disneyland that cost students $7000+, she also personally authorized aesthetic renovations to the student government office that used more than $11,000 of student fees.

All expenditures from the last three years can be found in the student government budgets, which are available upon request from the SGA treasurer.

Until the organization can get its priorities in check, it’s clear that the Student Government Association’s budget should be either reduced to only the amount needed for student initiatives or cut altogether, since the organization’s leadership can’t be trusted to look out for student interests. Student Government should be about students, (not just the ones in student government), and it’s time for us to hold them accountable.

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