Knowing where our money goes

Included in the tuition fee for every UVM student is $70 that goes directly to the Student Government Association (SGA).As a first-year student, I have heard about the SGA. I have seen their posters and received their recruitment e-mails.I have even been asked if I was interested in running for senator.Unfortunately, I had no idea what the SGA does. On top of that, I have found most other students don’t know either.Student government has its hands in everything from the student ethics code to how the student body communicates with the city of Burlington.However, those $70 go toward the SGA’s true power: club funding.In order to become an SGA-certified club, each group must write a constitution that states the club’s purpose and operating system. This constitution must also be approved by the SGA.If a club breaks their constitution or receives a complaint, they must meet with the SGA to explain.In this situation, the SGA acts as a judicial system. They have hearings and then decide how to act according to their basic constitution.If the problem is serious, the SGA acts as a mediating branch between the University Administration and the club.In many cases, the SGA fields these complaints brilliantly at a personal level. The members are understanding and personable.Yet, the rules they must follow as a bureaucracy create an awkward web of red tape. For example, in order to make any change to how a club operates, said club must amend its constitution, which in itself is an arduous process. The Student Government Association clearly has their hands full with organizing and funding the clubs, but they have several other jobs, such as enforcing the ethics code and even organizing waste management and environmental issues.Ultimately, these projects may be valid, but they distract from the SGA’s job of serving the thousands of students who participate in clubs.In order to better serve the students, the SGA should find a way to more efficiently focus its efforts on serving the student body.Separating club funding from the rest of the SGA’s duties and making it clear how their system of funding works can accomplish this.Students need to know what their tuition does for them. SGA must make it clear that they are effectively and efficiently applying the funds.