UI USG passes allocation legislation following heated contingency fund debate

In response to questions regarding the UI Undergraduate Student Government contingency fund and the allocation amount directed to the University Lecture Committee, Sen. Marco Oceguera, chair of the USG Finance Committee, remained the position that the health of the contingency fund.


Matt Sindt

Senators listen to speakers at a University Student Government meeting in the Black Box Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

The University of Iowa’s Undergraduate Student Government passed legislation to allocate money to a number of different organizations on Tuesday night following an engaged debate over the government’s contingency fund.

USG’s contingency fund supports large-scale projects that help university staff, students, and the community at large. 

The student government first voted to allocate $6,500 out of the contingency fund and $2,000 from the programming budget to Hawk the Vote to purchase TurboVote, which will allow the organization to create a civic engagement website for UI students that includes resources such as registration/how to register information, finding precinct locations, and other tools related to civic engagement.

Hawk the Vote is a nonpartisan organization at the UI which aims to increase student voting at the university, emphasizing civic engagement on campus and teaching the Iowa City community about voting.  

Sen. Marco Oceguera, who is the USG finance committee chair, said pulling from the programming budget helps save some money in the contingency account.

Sen. Delaney Behning spoke in support of the legislation, saying Hawk the Vote should always be supported by USG.

“I think Hawk the Vote is a great organization on campus to get students civically engaged. So anything that student government can do to help them in that process should always be implemented,” Behning said. 

The legislation passed and will cover mailing expenses for Hawk the Vote to increase financial sustainability along with the purchase of TurboVote.

Following the passage, Oceguera provided an update on the balance of the contingency fund, sparking a debate from other senators.

“I’ve had some questions come up from a few senators; I would like to reiterate for everybody in this room that the USG contingency account is healthy, and everything in the contingency account — every expense for this fiscal year — is fully accounted for,” Oceguera said. 

Legislation centered around support for the University Lecture Committee’s hopeful future lecture with American fashion designer Kendra Scott. 

USG allocated $15,000 from the contingency fund to the University Lecture Committee in the legislation. Initially, a draft of the legislation gave $30,000 to the committee, which prompted Sen. Ben Cooper to ask Oceguera why the allocation amount was changed from a prior draft of the bill. 

“We have the money in the contingency account to fully fund this if we want to and we would not fall below our floor,” Oceguera said. 

Oceguera said the change was made to ensure that the account stays as financially stable as possible given the possible event of surprise expenses. 

“Levels of funding change throughout USG years and I know as a freshman senator you probably haven’t had the opportunity to see that as often,” Oceguera said in response to Cooper. 

Oceguera explained that the revenue stream is strained because of increases in requests for funding to student group events. 

USG Director of Finance Robert Jepsen said after the passing of the Hawk the Vote bill, the contingency fund is around $115,000. He added that he did not have the exact number. 

Jepsen said the bounds of the contingency fund require the account to end the fiscal year between $120,000 and $80,000. 

There were also questions from senators surrounding whether it was the first bill this fiscal year to decrease initially offered funds, to which Oceguera said there has been no request limiting before. 

“We have not cut any other student organizations, and we have not cut this bill or funding because this isn’t a bill that we have to fund,” Oceguera said. “…I am saying that this is a courtesy because this isn’t a requirement.” 

Oceguera further explained there was never any official indication of a higher amount to be allocated, to which he received pushback from other senators, including Sen. Addison Eckard.

“It’s kind of known that $30,000 was initially promised to the Lecture Committee, and that was cut in the initial drafting of the bill which obviously that’s not what’s being proposed,” Eckard said. 

The legislation ultimately passed Tuesday. 

“Despite any debate, I totally support this bill, and I’m excited to hopefully allocate $15,000 to the Lecture Committee and I urge you all to support the bill,” Oceguera said. 

Editors note: Marco Oceguera is a former employee of The Daily Iowan. Additionally, a former edition of this article included that the funds allocated to Hawk the Vote would support mailing expenses. It did not include that the funding also helps Hawk the Vote purchase TurboVote. The DI regrets this error.