Tuesday, February 11th will be one of the biggest nights of the academic year for Mines’ Undergraduate Student Government (USG). After sorting through many fund requests and spending hours discussing, the Executive Team (Exec) has released their preliminary rollover proposal. Pending a USG Senate vote, thirteen projects will be fully funded and six events will receive some USG money. This is very exciting, but at the same time a bit confusing. Where is this money coming from? Why did these projects get to be considered? How is the decision being made? The best way to tackle these questions is to dive into Mines Student Government 101.
Student government at Mines is broken into two main branches; Senate and Exec. You can kind of think of the Senate as the legislative branch, passing by-laws and approving spending. The Senate is made up of the class presidents and representatives (each class having three representatives, adding up to a total of four votes per class) and governing bodies (with BSO, BSM, MAC, Panhellenic Council, IFC, ISC, and SAAC all having one representative). There are three additional USG representatives that are voting members: the ‘at-larges’. The At-Large to the Community, At-Large to the Institution, and At-Large to the Faculty span the gap between USG and other important Mines and Golden organizations. They attend Senate and Exec meetings. In addition to at-large positions, Exec also has six members who do not have a senate vote; President, Vice President, Student Trustee, Treasurer, Secretary, and Parliamentarian. Their job is to ensure that USG functions in the correct way, and see that the by-laws are being followed when decisions are made.
Among other things, USG’s primary purpose is to distribute the money collected in student fees. Okay, now it’s time for Allocations 101. Each class, governing body, and Exec is given the opportunity to request funds before the final allocations meeting. In general, the total amount of money requested is significantly larger than the estimated range of student money available. Every year around early April, there is an extraordinarily long Senate meeting, in which thousands of dollars are cut from every request, until the total requested is equal to the low-ball estimate of money available.
So, in theory, student fee money should always exceed the amount allocated. And, therefore, there should be at least a little extra money left once fees are collected in early September. Ideally, this money would be redistributed, but in reality, for at least the past four years, this money has sat and accumulated until reaching an amount of $92,000. Until last semester, the existence of this money was unknown. However, when a proposed fee increase to fund The Prospector reached a vote at the USG-GSG joint meeting, it was brought to the attention of Exec that this pool of money was there. Since it wouldn’t be logical to increase the student fee when past rollover had gone undistributed, the next step was to make sure this money was put to good use.
Exec spent over a month creating a process for the money to be distributed. An application was sent to the governing bodies and classes, who had a week to complete and submit them. The requests were redistributed to every voting member of the Senate, who had an additional week to rank them and give comments. “Projects were evaluated by all USG senate members based on the number of students impacted, the overall campus impact, the longevity or commitment to a project, and their relevance to current initiatives,” said Hanzelle Kleeman, Student Trustee. Once the evaluations were done, Exec had the chance to review the feedback. “From that point, the Executive Team met for a few hours to create an initial proposal for the distribution of funds,” said Kleeman. “We are very excited to see these projects come to fruition!”
After weeks of logistical challenges and tons of input, Exec released their official proposal for funding, which is subject to approval at tonight’s (as of the release of this issue) USG Senate meeting. Here’s a quick list of the projects USG has recommended for full funding.
The Oredigger, completing the 12-issue academic year.
More outlets added to the library.
Asian cultural fest ISC event.
Battle of the Bands event.
Black History Month event.
Every Oredigger focus group and remembrance event.
Iftar ISC event.
Tie Dye stress relief event.
MURF meet and greet event.
Undergraduate research swag.
Partial funding was suggested for the 2020 Prospector, E-Days security, the International Women’s Day event, APO’s JOY event, a mental health fair, and a New Year and Iftar ISC event.
All-in-all, this would use about 45% of the rollover money. That may sound like quite a bit of money is left, but the goal of allocating this money wasn’t for the sake of spending it. USG wants to make sure that it is spent in a way that produces tangible impact. The rest of the money will be available for future applicants. Now that a rollover process has been effectively implemented, we are likely to see this used in future years, with even more impactful projects reaching the light of day.
We will keep you updated with the results of the USG vote in Issue 9 of The Oredigger.