USG proposes new Spring 2021 budget, increases concerts funding by 85%

USG’s Concert Committee plans large virtual event, adds COVID-19 compliance officer.

Following an 85% increase in the Concerts Committee budget, some students wonder if the Undergraduate Student Government could be using its funds for what they see as more important causes, given that students will not presently be able to attend on-campus events during the spring semester.

The USG Senate met Feb. 2 to introduce its Spring 2021 budget, which provides $175,000 for the Concerts Committee, $95,000 more than last semester and over a quarter of USG’s total semester funding.

Alyssa Delarosa, a junior majoring in psychology, joined the meeting to express concern that the increased budget for the Concerts Committee is inappropriate given the pandemic.

She voiced frustration about a “lack of transparency” and that the committee set aside $3,000 for campus activity while the university remains closed for in-person gatherings.

Additionally, Delarosa said that she was “skeptical” that the Concerts Committee needed such a large budget for concerts that will take place virtually. “Why are they being given more money for concerts when we are not gonna be back on campus?”, she asked.

The Concerts Committee, the USG committee responsible for student engagement events and live entertainment, had planned to host the now-cancelled Springfest concert at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum this Spring. They now plan to use a hefty portion of their budget to host a virtual Zoom concert from the Coliseum which will welcome transfer and spring admit students to the USC community. Samantha Gibbs, co-executive director of the Concerts Committee, said the organization will return any unused funding to USG.

During the meeting, Gibbs said the Concerts Committee wants to “celebrate USC as much as possible and as safely as possible.”

“Obviously, we understand that it’s a much different year,” Faiz Haque, co-director of the Concerts Committee said during the Senate meeting. “As the Concerts Committee we wanted to make sure we were able to adjust however we needed to, to put on memorable and engaging events for our students this year since they aren’t able to get involved with the experiences and opportunities they normally would.”

The committee’s proposed $175,000 budget will also include funds to add a COVID compliance officer to ensure the Coliseum event follows Los Angeles County safety protocol.

Delarosa suggested the money should go towards resources that can help students during the pandemic, such as the Trojan Shelter -- an organization that houses college students who are facing homelessness in the greater Los Angeles area.

Despite the Senatorial meeting being adjourned, Delarosa said she plans to continue to push USG to re-evaluate the Concerts Committee budget.

“I’m going to return to the meeting next week and respond and get the answers I need,” she said in an interview with Annenberg Media. “We just want transparency here.”

USG Student Body President Gabe Savage told Annenberg Media he did not wish to comment on the budget until after the senate votes Feb. 9. “The budget is still evolving,” he said.

USG Senate meetings are streamed live on Facebook every Tuesday at 7 p.m.