Letter to the Editor: Working out the UISG budgeting process

The UISG Finance Committee chair writes about the difficult decisions student government has to make with funding different programs and services.


Roman Slabach

The Old Capital from the roof of UIHC in Iowa City, Iowa on March 25, 2019.

As the Finance Committee chair for University of Iowa Student Government, I feel a responsibility to clarify some inaccuracies in a Daily Iowan article, “UISG decrease in contingency funds limits student organization funding,” and how it described UISG’s funding process.

Before doing that, I’d like to state that I agree it’s unfortunate that UISG cannot give more funding to student organizations. However, given the fixed amount of money brought in from the $72 Student Activity Fee and the increasing amount of organizations applying for funds, we are doing the best we can with what we currently have. This year, we’ve seen an increased volume of requests, largely because of our student liaison program where senators reach out to all groups on campus to make them aware of UISG funding. This means that while there may be less funds per organization, student dollars are being spread across more organizations than ever before. Additionally, the UISG director of finance, UISG president, and Graduate and Professional Student Government president are currently working on a 50/50 plan for the Student Activity Fee revenue to be reserved 50 percent for organization requests and UISG’s operational budget, and 50 percent for student services (such as Student Legal Services and the Clothing Closet).

Next, it’s helpful to provide some insight on how the Finance Committee works. We review funds every other Monday. Before meeting, I add up the total amount requested that fits our funding guidelines. Our committee then uses that number to determine how we can reach our target budget of $11,500. This is usually done by cutting 20-50 percent of all requested amounts. When making these cuts, we attach a statement explaining our budget and informing organizations of other funding opportunities.

Finally, I want to emphasize that we value every organization request and we want organizations to consistently attend the same conferences and host the same events each year. While we work on getting our budget to 50/50 in the next three to five years, we encourage organizations to also apply for Campus Events funding, Late Night Grant funding, ARH funding; approach related colleges and departments on campus for funding; and pursue their own fundraising efforts.

Points that need to be clarified:

1. “Ten percent (of the student activity fee revenue) goes toward internal operations and 3 percent is set aside for salaries.”

a. The three percent for salaries is part of the 10 percent for the operational budget.

2. “Organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers asking for more money at weekly student-government meetings is an ordinary occurrence for UISG, especially the 2019 fall semester.”

a. There has not been an appeal on the Senate floor since that October meeting. The funding legislation Senate has voted on since then have all been requests for contingency money and did not detract from the money student organizations can request from the Finance Committee.

3. “Karar said the only reason he was able to appeal was because he was close friends with a UISG senator, but other organizations like his don’t always have that kind of an in with student government.”

a. Every organization is able to appeal if the situation fits the guidelines for appeal. Mohamed emailed Adam and me that NSBE was not satisfied with their allocation, so we met with him to explain our budgeting process. We then informed him of the option to appeal to Senate (the appeals process has since been updated). He decided to move forward with the appeals process, so I wrote the legislation and presented it to Senate.

All information about UISG funding requests, guidelines, and reports can be found at https://uisg.uiowa.edu/funding/, and questions can be directed to me or UISG Director of Finance Adam Burghduff.

Zoë Hamstreet, UISG senator and Finance Committee chair