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While only 2.6 percent of students voted for the student government, 100 percent of students paid for it in their tuition fees. Did you know our Student Government Association (SGA) has a budget of over $40,000? If you didn’t, you do now. I wouldn’t blame you for not knowing much about SGA. Statistically, it has very low interest based on voter turnout. We as students pick up the tab for SGA when we pay our

Student Services Fee at $15.40 per credit hour. Over the course of 120 hours (the minimum credit hour requirement to graduate), this cost adds up to a total of $1,848, and a portion of that goes to SGA.

Some students may think this is too much money to spend on a student-led organization. I disagree with that position. However, this money needs to be spent in a way that enriches the college experience of all UTSA students.

Look, I am not anti-SGA. I understand that for SGA to work it needs to have a budget. It needs funding to oversee elections and voting; and it needs money to fund awards for UTSA students. But SGA’s latest budget report shows they spent $44,878, with $26,154.50 going directly to making UTSA better for only the select few members of SGA.

It’s biggest expense of $8,752.00 is paid to itself in the form of stipends, to run an organization that students have shown they do not care about. The second biggest expense of $7,340.00 is used to send SGA members on a vacation each semester for the “Fall Retreat” and “Spring Retreat.” Additionally, SGA sends five representatives on a “Leadership Conference” which costs UTSA students $5,250.

SGA also found it fitting to make students pay for an SGA professional photo shoot expensed as “Composites.” To celebrate member accomplishments, SGA hosts an “End of the Year Banquet,” supplemented with certificates and plaques. Ultimately this “Recognition” extravaganza costs the student body $1,200.

While all that spending provides a lot to think about, the fact that SGA spent $1,212.50 on “Apparel” yet I have never seen an SGA t-shirt, really surprises me. I am led to believe SGA members only wear these t-shirts when they engage in “Morale/Team Development,” because only $500 was spent on development. While $500 seems like a lot of money for miscellaneous student org team-building activities, $500 is nothing to SGA with a near $50,000 budget. Leading me to conclude the organization did not engage in very much team development.

That SGA could justify expensing this $26,154.50 in the way they did is beyond logic. It was given this money to make UTSA better for all students, not just members of SGA. I am unsure of how our student government thought this was the best way to spend over half of their budget on us as students. But, I have a sneaking suspicion they learned this modus operandi at that Leadership Conference.

Before I wrote this article, I wanted to see what these “Retreats”, “Conferences” and “Composites” accomplished at UTSA. This led me to SGA’s website. Let me tell you… if you want to feel deceived or tricked, explore the “Projects” tab. Many of their self-proclaimed accomplishments appear to be ongoing projects, and as for their completed projects, the only ones that seem to require any money at all are for the benefit of solely SGA members (SGA Website Revamp, Retreat, Office

Improvements, etc.). The remaining accomplishments seem to be composed of administrative actions, issues the Business Auxiliary Services can take care of or actions that do not require funding.

 

“Does it really cost over $40,000 to make a Snap Chat filter or sit on committees with other organizations?”Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 8.47.40 PM

 

 

I think the $26,154.50 should be given to other student organizations that make a difference for UTSA’s student body. I know from experience that student organizations are fiscally limited.

Student organizations find themselves spending a great chunk of time fundraising instead of accomplishing their objectives. If you are currently in a student organization, imagine how much more it could accomplish with extra funding and extra time saved from not having to fund raise as often. Plus, student participation in student orgs is much higher than student involvement in SGA. If students are not voting, but are participating in other organizations, why not put the money where students have placed their interests? This allocation of the $26,154.50 is the most logical because it has the opportunity to benefit the largest number of UTSA students.

That is only one alternative way to spend this $26,154.50. SGA could not possibly be spending this money any worse than it currently is. All $26,154.50 could really make a difference, wherever it is invested at UTSA.

I really hope SGA would agree with me on this point when I say that the way it has allocated its budget is unacceptable.

There remains tremendous potential in SGA. I can only hope our representatives in SGA adopt a role of self-reflexivity when they allocate its budget next year. Imagine the significant difference SGA would make if it invested over $25,000 directly into the lives of all students at UTSA.

If SGA refuses to coalesce to this peaceful demand, we as students must remind SGA of the relationship a government has to its constituents within a democracy — one in which a government is afraid of its people.

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