USG supports student organizations with budget changes

Student government reports it has used 98% of its funds for the 2022-2023 school year, compared to 64% last year. Although some student organizations received less funding than in years prior, more organizations received funding from USG as a whole.

USG President Hannah Woodworth delivered her final address as president on April 18. Her speech covered many different topics, but it was how USG used much more of its allotted budget this school year that came as a surprise.

Woodworth said that the funding department of USG used 98% of its allocated budget over this past school year. The funding department used just 64% of its allocated budget the year prior. USG cut the budget of the funding department this school year from $371,000 to $349,000 in the course of a year to ensure that the department would spend all of its money.

A bulk of USG’s discretionary budget already went to RSOs, or registered student organizations, but the outgoing Chief Programming Officer Jillian Fallon says that most of the cuts to the funding department was to help RSOs, which fall under the programing department of USG.

“A lot of that came from funding outreach from the chief financial officer creating a more streamlined process for RSOs to get funding,” Fallon said. “I think they changed the funding guidelines from 29 pages to about four pages and really making sure it was easy for groups to understand just how to get funding through USG.”

The programming department had about a $1.4 million budget allocation this school year, a little over half of the total $2.5 million USG budget.

The International Student Assembly (ISA) is one of the RSOs who fall under the programming department, receiving $67,400 this year from USG.

“Some of the assemblies have a much bigger budget than others just cause of the scale of events or the number of students it caters to,” said Piya Garg, the co-executive director for ISA. “[ISA] got the same amount this year as we did last year, and I think part of that is because we didn’t spend all of our money last year.”

ISA was one of only six RSOs under USG who received the same amount of money in 2022 and 2023. There were two new RSOs in 2023, and 12 other clubs received different funding from year to year. After RSOs apply for funding, it is up to the USG cabinet to decide the budget. The newly-sworn cabinet for 2024 is already preparing to make next year’s budget.

“That will entail the outcoming directors and incoming directors [of the RSOs] presenting on how they spent their money this previous year and how they expect to spend their money next year,” Fallon said.

Once those presentations are over, the programming budget goes into the hands of the allocation committee, which consists of the USG president, vice president, the cabinet, all USG chiefs and the speaker of the Senate.

“They will figure out how all of these requests, and balance all of the interests of the administration and each group, to figure out where that money will be allocated to,” Fallon said.

USG added two new RSOs this year, which makes the process a little more difficult. The Middle Eastern North African Student Assembly (MENASA) and the Joint Assembly for Military-Associated Students (JAMS), the new RSOs, only received $5,000 this year as it was their first year under USG. They are now eligible to request much more funding like other RSOs.

All of USG’s $2.5 million yearly budget came from a $64 student programming fee, which is a part of tuition. USG put an emphasis on spending as much of that budget as possible because if they did not, they might have lost access to that money.

“It goes into this rollover fund, which we really don’t have access to unless we have some sort of project that is going to impact students more broadly,” Fallon said. “If you don’t have a project of that scale that’s going to benefit all students, we don’t get access to that funding.”

For this school year, USG was able to use that rollover funding to start the SCUP shuttle, which transported students from campus to the LAX airport during busy travel periods during the school year, like winter or spring break.

Fallon emphasized that, since they would practically lose the money if they did not spend it, USG spent its budget the right way this past school year.

“Using this money doesn’t mean we’re just throwing away money,” Fallon said. “It means that we’re utilizing all of the funding that we have properly and reaching an even broader group of students than last year.”

Editor’s note: The headline and subheadline of this story have been edited to more accurately reflect its content.