USG makes budget changes to better represent their, Division of Student Life’s priorities

The University of Iowa’s Undergraduate Student Government passed legislation on Tuesday night to adapt their fiscal year 2021 programming budget to better prioritize over $56,000 of funds.


Tate Hildyard

USG meets in the Blackbox Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government voted Tuesday night to make its fiscal 2021 programming budget more flexible for USG to prioritize its funds year-to-year in line with the Division of Student Life.

The programming budget, originally called the collaboration budget until last year, is $56,496 out of the $1.6 million that USG allocates from student-activity fee dollars. The funds previously were used to allocate a slate of fixed costs to programming such as the Womxn of Color Network and the Native American Student Association-hosted annual POWWOW event. The same amount of funds will likely be allocated, student-government officials said, but a new committee will meet on how to prioritize the funds in line with the groups Diversity Equity and Inclusion goals.

The change comes as one of the first acts of the 2020-21 academic year senate and executive board.

USG Director of Finance Emily Hagedorn said some of the initiatives that were in the programming budget have been moved to the executive budget of the organization. These costs are mainly internal costs that don’t need to be delegated elsewhere, she said.

“Some other items we are reviewing, and we are working with the Division of Student Life in order to create our [programming] budget,” she said. “We are reviewing what we want to put those funds toward, especially funding more DEI initiatives because they are both the priority of USG and the Division of Student Life.”

Hagedorn said these funds should be delegated by the end of the summer or by the first senate meeting of the fall semester. She said she reached out to organizations and events that were not moved to the executive budget to ensure they understand the changes being made to the funding April 26.

USG Cabinet Director Adam Burghduff said it is likely that most, if not everything that was previously on the budget receives some funding.

“This is just changing the process to make sure our priorities are better in line with the Division of Student Life priorities,” he said. “This year we want to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as [the executives’] new priorities. We are creating a committee of seven people, chaired by the president and vice president, to complete this new process. There will be three senate members and three executive members to make suggestions on how to prioritize the $56,000.”

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Bill Nelson, IMU executive director, advises USG and chairs the Student Activity Fee Committee. He said this change benefits more people by allowing the funds to be changed every year according to what USG believes is important.

“The outgoing and incoming leadership [in USG] is very committed to supporting current division priorities rather than what has traditionally been in that budget,” Nelson said. “I think this is a very positive decision. It’s so important for the Division of Student Life and USG to support students and we’re fortunate that there is a positive relationship between the two. DEI initiatives are right at the top of both group’s priorities. Some of the things that weren’t on the program budget can now be funded as Division of Student Life priorities alongside what was historically on it.”

The budget previously gave funding to events like POWWOW and organizations like the Women’s Resource and Action Center’s Womxn of Colour Network.

WRAC received funds from USG for the first time in the 2019-20 academic year, said WRAC Director Linda Kroon in an email to The Daily Iowan. She said the $3,000 from USG allowed the Womxn of Colour Network to provide two programming events every month over the past semester and a half.

“This funding for [the Womxn of Colour Network] from [USG] was requested in Spring 2019 by [former] Vice President of Student Life Melissa Shivers because of our program’s alignment with the Division’s strategic priority of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” Kroon said. “The Womxn of Colour Network is uniquely valuable on our campus as an opportunity for women faculty, staff, and students of different racial and ethnic identities to come together to learn and support one another, to foster community and a sense of belonging, and to support academic, professional and personal success. There is no other program on our campus that is designed this way.”

USG President-elect Connor Wooff said these changes better reflect the current goals of USG, and one of the focuses of his and Vice President-elect Mara Smith’s campaign was Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

“We’ll look at what the numbers are, but we don’t want to see Womxn of Colour Network or POWWOW events being underfunded next year,” he said.

While there hasn’t been much official communication between it and USG, WRAC’s work aligns well with the initiatives of the UI Division of Student Life and USG, and Kroon said she knows it will continue to receive the funding it needs.

“While we have not received official communication as yet from [USG] about the change in the funding process, I have had conversations that indicate that the intent is for a set amount of funding from [USG] which was formerly allocated on a program-by-program basis to a variety of initiatives within the [Division of Student Life] will now be allocated as a single sum,” Kroon said. “The Division will align that funding with programs and initiatives that further our strategic plan, especially our DEI Action Plan. I feel confident that the Womxn of Colour Network will continue to receive strong support.”

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