The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
For the 400+ student organizations on campus, budgeting is strict. If they need money, they need to submit a proposal to the Associated Student Government (ASG). Nearly everything is allowed if the argument is strong enough and the details in the proposal reflect careful planning.
That is, unless you want to use funds to benefit your club members specifically. That means ASG will not allocate money to fund things like club dinners or to buy gifts specific for the executive board. Things that do not benefit the student body or the part of the student body that the organization is serving, informing or entertaining will not pass a budget proposal. Well, unless you’re ASG.
To be fair, ASG is not taking money from other clubs in order to fund its “Cabinet Dinners” and the giving of its “Cabinet Gifts,” (which total $1,105 and $980 respectively). ASG is taking this money from the students.
Each student is required to pay $63 in student fees to fund ASG. Miami students are paying for those Cabinet Dinners and Gifts, none of which benefit the student body in any way. They simply give our loyal governors a break from the tough days on their salaried jobs.
Amy Berg claims in Céilí Doyle’s article on ASG budgeting that ASG is a governing body and therefore doesn’t operate under the same rules as other organizations on campus. That’s easy to say when your organization makes most of the rules by which all other student organizations must abide.
The reality is that, out of the $1.2 million ASG manages, over $80,000 is set aside for their funding. That’s the most money that any organization is allotted, and upwards of 59 percent of it goes toward paying members of the executive board with yearlong salaries.
And while that statistic is eye-opening, it’s not necessarily the issue. ASG does do work on and off campus, however below the radar they have been this year.
In fact, the large majority of the money that does not go straight into their pockets goes into managing off-campus affairs, including encouraging civic engagement and health and safety in Oxford. Arguably their most significant and important event is their Mental Health Forum, which they held on Sept. 15 this year. For the forum this time around, the cost tallied $1,385. So yes, they do hold events and they should get paid for the work they do (the amount of money they should actually get is up for debate).
The issue is that they invest more money in Cabinet Dinners and Cabinet Gifts together than they do in an event as important as the Mental Health Forum — $700 more. That money is for nothing more than getting food with the team and buying presents for each other (what does “Cabinet Gifts” even mean?).
The issue is that they ask all of the other clubs to do something that they do not. They are not different than other student organizations on campus. They are a governing body in the sense that they have two publicly elected members: their president and vice president. But other organizations, like the Residence Hall Association (RHA), have publicly elected members. And they have no money allotted to them for executive entertainment.
Beyond the election for ASG president and vice president, the student government operates within their own bounds, in a way that makes them inaccessible to students on campus.
They are hypocritical in their spending and we demand that they be more transparent in their budgeting. They don’t need over $2,000 to pay for executive indulgences. What they need to do is allocate that money to organizations that actually need it to make a palpable difference on this campus.