Guest Column | The Importance of USG Funding

USG Director of Finance, Robert Jepsen, on how funding from the organization works to benefit University of Iowa students.


Cody Blissett

A welcome sign is seen at the Food Pantry in the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

My experience in the Undergraduate Student Government has looked a little different in each of my two years, but it has always been driven by the potential to improve student life at the University of Iowa.

I joined USG in fall 2021 as an at-large senator. I served my term as senator while being a member of the finance and sustainability committees. Through these two committees, I drafted and successfully passed legislation to allocate additional funding for CommUnity Crisis Center’s 24-7 crisis hotline, as well as a resolution voicing support for Iowa to include sustainability-focused requirements in each college.

During the USG 2022 spring election, I won re-election to serve as a senator, and was shortly after appointed by USG President Patrick Johnson to serve as the organization’s Director of Finance. I am still serving in this role, and it has been a great experience and honor for me so far.

At its core, the Undergraduate Student Government’s mission is to improve the lives of students at the UI.

In accomplishing this goal, it is inevitable that USG members will interact with other organizations at the university who are focused on the same goal. In my role as the USG Director of Finance, this interaction typically comes in the form of allocating money to help support these other organizations on campus.

This is what happened on Jan. 24, when the USG Senate approved $25,000 in additional funding from the contingency account to be allocated to the UI Food Pantry.

USG receives funding as part of the Student Activity Fee, which is a $73 fee that all students at the UI pay each school year. A portion of the USG budget is labeled “Contingency”, and it is this account that the additional financial support for the Food Pantry came from.

The contingency account is a budget that USG holds and spends each year on initiatives, services, and processes that aim to improve student life at Iowa. In addition to the UI Food Pantry, some examples of initiatives to have received money from contingency this year are the Restorative Justice program of the Division of Student Accountability, the establishment of the International Ballroom in the IMU, and the Taste of Iowa City event.

Funding from USG is an integral part of so many campus organizations’ journeys toward accomplishing their missions. Due to USG’s funding coming directly from the students, through the Student Activity Fee, it is crucial that USG uses this money responsibly and in ways that directly benefit students.

This potential for empowerment and advocacy is what makes the USG funding process so important, and it will continue to play a large role in campus life for years to come.

  • Robert Jepsen, UI Undergraduate Student Government, Director of Finance

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.