The Student Government Association (SGA) at UTSA prides itself on being the voice of the student population. Despite the SGA’s goals of advocating students’ needs, their 2013-2014 budget says otherwise.

Sixty-seven percent of the SGA’s budget covered SGA officer stipends, a retreat for SGA members, an SGA banquet and leadership development. In contrast, only 20 percent of the budget went toward student events such as the Diploma Dash and Scantron give-a ways.

Operating on a yearly budget of $47,650, the SGA is funded by a portion of the Student Services Fee, a $180.84 fee that is collected from students each semester as part of their tuition and fees.

Although the SGA purportedly works year round to ensure students’ needs are being heard, many students report that they do not see what the fee is going toward.

“This may just make me sound like an uninvolved student, but I’ve never heard of anything that SGA has done. I always thought (SGA) was just a group to develop your leadership skills,” said junior anthropology major John Garza.

Many students who, unlike Garza, are aware of the SGA’s presence also feel they are not benefiting from the organization.

“I don’t really care that part of my tuition goes to SGA, but I’ve never heard about any of the events they hold for students, and I feel like I’m missing out,” said senior English major Julie Marks.

“If more students knew about SGA and took part in the activities they hold, maybe the SGA could allocate more of their funds to benefit students directly,” said Marks.

Zack Dunn, president of the SGA, is aware of the problem.

Dun believes community inclusion should be one of the main goals of the SGA.

“Community engagement is so important,” said Dunn.

“If we can get out in the community and partner with other organizations, then students would be benefited — both alumni and current students,” he continued.

Over the past years, the SGA has advocated the need for a wait list when students register for classes, led a Green Fund proposal to get the Sombrilla fountain flowing again and proposed the athletics fee referendum which led to the development of UTSA’s football team.

This year the SGA aspires to talk with the University of Texas System Board of Regents in order to get the University of Texas at Austin to end the Coordinated Admission Program (CAP) participation with UTSA.

The student government also wants to work with San Antonio restaurants to create a student discount card.

“I don’t think any student would agree with me,” said UTSA student Maricella Bowman, “but I think the portion of the student fee that goes to SGA should be raised.”

“I know UT Austin has more students than UTSA,” said Bowman. “But if our SGA had a higher budget, then maybe they could accomplish more things that would benefit the students,” she suggested.

Psychology junior Amanda Rodriguez disagrees. “Students already pay so much money for their tuition and fees; the fees shouldn’t increase,” said Rodriguez.

“If organizations want to exist on campus,” continued Rodriguez, “they should raise their own money and not be rely on student fees, unless all of the students benefit from the existence of their organization. I don’t think SGA benefits all of the students.”

Regardless of whether students believe SGA should receive a portion of the fees they pay, the biggest problem seems to be a lack of knowledge about SGA and their accomplishments.

“I follow what SGA does and have always taken part in their activities,” said biology major Taylor White.

“I’ve heard some of the criticism about SGA,” continued White, “but I feel like they’re doing a good job.”

Dunn reflected on his administration, “I feel like we’re making a difference.”

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