USG must fairly distribute money to organizations

Josh Rosenbaum, Contributing Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Every year around this time, much of the organizing and programming capacities of student organizations is decided through the Undergraduate Student Government budgeting process. In the process, the budget is created by the USG Finance Committee then proposed to the USG Senate, who debates it at the first reading and votes on it at the second. It always passes. This year, the budget is concerning and should receive more scrutiny. Of the 145 organizations USG is funding this year, 57 percent of our nearly $1.5 million is being allotted to 3 organizations. That’s 57 percent of our money to 2 percent of our organizations. This is unacceptable.

The first reading was on Tuesday, April 5, and what it contains is extremely troubling. Traditionally, the budget is not shared with the student body. While organizations present their requests to the Finance Committee, the budget deliberations and processes happen entirely behind closed doors. The student body doesn’t see this document or hear these numbers. The student body doesn’t see our votes — in fact, they aren’t even recorded. My question for USG is: what do we have to hide from the student body? With the numbers this year, it’s clear that there is a lot.

The Undergraduate Student Government has values. In our “strategic priorities” and in our legislation, we codify those values. But when I see this budget, I don’t see those values being expressed. We claim sustainability as a value, but we turn around and cut Green Club’s funding. We claim civic engagement as a value, but we offer our political organizations only 40 percent of what they requested, giving every single one a three-digit budget. We claim antiracism and supporting students of color as values, but we give multicultural organizations just 51 percent of what they requested. We claim supporting survivors and ending sexual assault as values, but when there is only one organization fighting for that on campus, we give them a three-digit budget. We claim supporting queer and trans students as a value, but we increase the combined budgets of all the gender and sexuality organizations by a mere $89. These are just some examples, but there are so many more. Across the board, student organizing and bettering of Tulane University is being stymied by an unjust budgeting process. Meanwhile, Tidal Wave gets 100 percent of the $142,000 it requests, TUCP gets 98 percent of the $538,000 it requests, and Crawfest gets 84 percent of the $187,000 it requests. Programming, intended to not only have fun but also strengthen school spirit and the sense of community, is important. But this is the question facing the Senate when we vote on this budget on Tuesday: is it really 57 percent of our values?

If you, like me, say no: speak out, make your voices heard. The biggest difference can be made together. Urge your friends and classmates who are senators to take a public stand. When I look at the ways in which we allocate our money, I want to be proud that we are supporting organizing on campus. Right now, I’m ashamed. We deserve better. Our organizations deserve better. Tulane deserves better. It’s time that USG be held accountable to the students who elected us.

Josh Rosenbaum is a senator in the Undergraduate Student Government. He did not serve on the finance committee.

He is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]