In this week’s student government elections, which begin today, we hope you will take a few minutes out of your day to support University student organizations. Certainly, we would like you to vote for representatives based on their platforms, pick people who have demonstrated hard work in the past and choose students who you think will prioritize your concerns for the coming year. Voicing your vote is a great way to ensure that the LSA student government to which you pay $1.50 each semester remains accountable.

But this year’s election isn’t entirely about student government members. It’s also about that $1.50 collection. At the top of the LSA student government ballot, you will find that the first question asks for an increase in our collection of $0.50, which would increase the amount of money students pay to LSA-SG to $2.00 per student per semester. That $0.50 will generate about $7,000 more each semester that will go directly to student organizations. In this way, by voting for ballot question one you can significantly increase the financial resources available to your student organization. We want to encourage all LSA students to vote yes on LSA-SG Ballot Question One so that we can provide additional funding to student organizations for years to come.

Roughly 70 student groups apply for approximately $100,000 from LSA-SG every semester. LSA-SG funds registered student organizations thousands of dollars to rent out room space, advertise for events and host excellent programs across campus. We receive funding applications from groups as large as Dance Marathon and the Indian American Student Association, as well as requests from smaller organizations like the Maya Dance team. While we have been able to help many student organizations succeed by paying for portions of their event costs in the past six semesters, LSA-SG has been frustrated by a budget that is too small to completely fund all the reasonable and appropriate requests that come our way.

Student organizations submit outstanding applications with clear budgets and explanations of events for the semester. From cultural shows to topic forums, every event is very well planned, but also very expensive. Unfortunately, given our current operating budget, we can only offer between $13,000 and $16,000 (depending on student enrollment and other factors) to these applicants. This often forces LSA-SG to turn away student organizations in their time of need. Your $0.50 each semester would combine with other LSA students’ money to help us support the great work and efforts students like you put into campus organizations.

After accounting for inflation, using the past semester’s survey of the student body, and looking at student group funding need, we believe $2.00 is a reasonable amount to ask students to contribute, amid the current economic climate. We know we are asking for more money, but after working for several years to cut our costs on student government, we think this is the best way to help student organizations at this time. Beyond moving internal advertising to paperless alternatives, we have saved money by eliminating weekly room rental costs by hosting meetings in Mason Hall instead of University Unions. We have cut back on internal costs, held cheaper retreats each year and our funding chairs have worked hard to scrutinize budget applications to maximize our allocations toward funding student organizations. We provide less food at our meetings, limit our supply costs and pay our election director less, all in an effort to put more of our collection to student organization funding. Of course, we will continue to cut our operating costs to further maximize the amount we allocate to student groups. Yet while we have significantly increased the portion of your $1.50 that goes to student groups, it is still not enough. Please vote for LSA-SG Ballot Question One to ensure that LSA-SG has the proper resources to support student efforts.

Thank you in advance for voting in the election, regardless of what college you are in. If LSA-SG has funded your group in the past, please vote for LSA-SG Ballot Question One so that we can continue to fund the amazing events your group puts on for the student body. If LSA-SG hasn’t funded your group in the past, please vote for LSA-SG Ballot Question One so that we may have more financial resources to give your events in the coming years.

Steven Benson is the presidential candidate for LSA-SG, Christine Schepeler is the current LSA-SG president and Jeffrey Wojcik is the current LSA-SG vice president.

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