SG shows lack of responsibility handling its enormous budget

Rarely do topics of fiscal responsibility come up in discussions about UK’s Student Government, but my conservative nature has been prodded one too many times.

Time after time my stomach turns over as I read about the strange ways that my money is being wasted here on campus. Whether it’s a trip to New Orleans, cameras in the Johnson Center or even just $100 being used to purchase calculators for student rental, I’m constantly pained by what SG considers a good use of my money.

I thought the installation of cameras in the Johnson Center, which would let students seeking exercise avoid a wasted walk to the gym, might be the last straw. Something in the back of my mind thought that surely this is the most mind-numbing thing SG can do with its funding. Surely they can’t find even more ridiculous ways to spend money, no matter how small.

Oh how I was wrong.

Recently, SG purchased five graphing calculators that will be available for student rental. This is being touted as a great accomplishment as members of SG pat themselves on the back for finding so many ways to make life easier for UK students. But for some strange reason, I find it hard to see the benefit of purchasing five rental calculators on a campus of more than 25,000 students.

Where do these ideas come from?

I applaud SG for digging deep to find ways to make UK a better place for everyone. And by digging deep, I mean no exaggeration. It seems that some of these “student representatives” go out of their way to waste money.

It’s not that everything SG decides to fund is a waste of money, but too many dollars are just tossed at silly ideas.

“We receive student fees, so we need to use that money to provide for students,” said Tyler Fleck, SG’s deputy chief of staff for constituent services, in a Nov. 30 Kernel article.

The problem then isn’t that those holding the purse strings are unaware of their responsibility toward students; it’s that what’s considered a good way to “provide for students” is absurd.

At the beginning of this year, SG President Nick Phelps was applauded for working to eliminate rampant waste in the organization.

In what appeared to be a positive turn for the group, budget and program cuts actually came to life. It was encouraging to see Phelps and the rest of SG realize that no one needed to be wasting money on programs like a DVD rental service.

But we’ve replaced it with costly cameras and a calculator rental service?

One hundred dollars for calculators and a few thousand for video cameras in the Johnson Center aren’t terribly large amounts of money when you put them into the perspective of SG’s roughly $360,000 budget. Why, though, should any money be spent on such silly services and projects? Isn’t that a few thousand dollars that could be added to fund programs that do real good on campus?

If we’re going to waste money, why not waste it in a way that could really benefit someone? I’m sure no one would object to a campus-wide raffle where students could win parking passes, which now cost more than $200.

As I watch the silliness and pandering that goes in the U.S. Congress, I wonder how such successful and brilliant people can waste so much time and money without skipping a beat. How is it that people like Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., can consider spending $1 million on a museum memorializing the 1969 Woodstock concert?

But then I watch SG, full of students who have yet to be corrupted by lobbying groups and bribery, act as if it has no idea as to what responsible spending might look like.

Brett Nolan is a philosophy and political science sophomore. E-mail [email protected]