Perhaps there is no Student Association issue that affects more students than the allocation of student group funds. While I congratulate SA President David Burt for getting more funds from the University, I am disheartened to see that he has decided to hoard all the money rather than giving it to the people who deserve it: the student groups. Student groups know how to spend money a lot better than the SA does. It only takes common sense to figure out that campaign trips, conferences, speakers and panels are more important then key chains, pens and pads of paper with the SA’s name on them.
Burt has promised to put his budget up on the Web, which is a great initiative, as it will allow the students to see just how their money increase has been spent. In fact, a recent copy of the executive budget as well as President Burt’s most recent expenditures intrigued me. A $50 keyboard for the computer in his office, a $416 digital camera, a $400 reception at Fridays after an SA retreat attended by only 20 people – the list goes on. If you add this up, you will get a number that is higher than the initial allocations of 10 student groups put together. Burt’s budget for the year includes a $500 miscellaneous allocation under the Office of the President as well as a $2,000 buffer fund. When Burt says he represents all the students, he really means that he represents them by spending their money. I guess Burt knows how to spend your money better then you do.
I was truly upset by Burt’s recent comments that he had the right to control the Program Board’s funding. Burt does not speak for the SA in this matter. I, as a senator and more importantly as a student, completely disagree with his statements and attitude. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of a student group spending money in a responsible way is PB. Events like Fall Fest, the movie series, Caf? Gelman and other such enjoyable and memorable events have reached a wide variety of students. If Burt really represented the students, he would know that they enjoy the programs that PB provides. PB manages to reach students both in student groups as well as student who may not be involved and do not see where their money goes.
I encourage Burt to focus on how he spends his money and what he is doing rather then focusing on people who really do something meaningful with the money allocated to them. I encourage all students and student-group leaders to attend SA Senate meetings and encourage your senators to fight Burt’s executive budget and return your money. When you approach him in J Street, tell him to keep his hands off PB.
-The writer is SA senator representing the School of Business and Public Management.