Our view: A higher budget: Does USG deserve it?

As of July 1, budgets were due across the state and throughout the university. As many would imagine in such difficult economic times, many budgets were cut. State libraries are being forced to hand over 30 percent of their budgets to the state and Kent State’s new Responsibility Center Management budget model has been indefinitely put on hold until the state can figure out how much money is available.

Undergraduate Student Government also began operating under a new budget on July 1, but unlike many other university departments, its budget is the highest it has ever been at $187,432.

USG’s funding comes from tuition because it is made up of students whose sole purpose is to represent students. While tuition costs have stayed the same, this year’s projected enrollment is higher than last fall, which is why the budget is $12,550 more than last year’s.

Higher enrollment means more money. That makes sense, especially because Executive Director Scott Sherwood said the money will be going toward more productive ventures such as funding club sports teams and buying prizes for students who attend on-campus activities the most.

However, last semester, the Daily Kent Stater polled 50 students from each college and none of them knew who their senator was, much less what USG was.

So why are we giving the same percent of money to an organization that isn’t doing its job? It makes about as much sense as giving President Lester Lefton his yearly 20-percent bonus because he is so well-liked on campus.

Last year, USG used its $174,882 budget to promote events which cost more money to put on than they brought in, and $4,000 for a Web developer on a site that has been under construction for almost a year. It also used the money to start the sparsely used Flash Flix in the Student Center and spent $8,000 on office supplies for the USG members who have weekly office hours that aren’t always fulfilled.

Other suspicious charges to the USG account are $30,000 that went toward “student business” and nearly $9,000 each for the executive director and a graphic designer.

This year, the lofty student business allotment is still present, but the $9,000 for office phones is gone thanks to someone who realized cell phones and e-mail are Kent State’s official way of communicating.

Flash Flix won’t receive as much funding, and instead, the money will be put toward other “special projects” which are allotted $10,000 on the budget.

The 25 USG members took $1,000 from the still-outrageous stash of money used for office supplies to put toward their Web site, something Sherwood and his fellow directors genuinely seem dedicated to improving.

Sherwood also insisted the $21,000 used for the collegiate readership program be kept in place so students can get the New York Times and U.S.A. Today for free.

Most of the extra budget comes from the $15,000 USG plans to spend sponsoring club sports like hockey and rugby and another $5,000 that will fund prizes for students who accumulate the most points on their FlashCard after attending USG sponsored on-campus events such as concerts.

So, while in some places money seems to be thrown around carelessly, at least USG is making a concerted effort to improve the lives of students and make campus a more exciting place to spend a Friday night. After all, these people aren’t accountants. And while they do hold a government office, they only have one adviser to help them make every move.

USG, we hope you make the most out of your funding, or next year, you might not be as lucky when July 1 rolls around.

The above editorial is a consensus of the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.