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Letters to the Editor

On 'honest' USG funding mistake

I am writing to clarify a few facts regarding the USG's budget allocation to the Projects Board for this semester. Several comments and insinuations were reported in the Feb. 11 and Feb. 13 editions of the 'Prince' that do not reflect the strong – and continuing – commitment of the student government to student organizations and the importance of funding for campus events.


Before actually taking office, USG president David Ascher '99 and I sat down for a series of extensive conversations about the USG budget and the importance of the Projects Board to student groups. I expressed to him the real concerns and needs that presidents of the various campus groups had conveyed to me over the last year about the difficulty in obtaining funding for events and the workings of the Projects Board.

By the time we finished discussing these issues, I realized that David's personal commitment to these groups would be just as strong as my own and that he wanted to work hard to reach out further to student organizations. When we discussed the actual budget breakdown, I gave him copies of the USG budget from the USG web-page that listed the Projects Board Spring 1997 budget as $20,000. So in order to continue the USG's commitments to funding campus activities, I suggested that David adopt the $20,000 number.

Unfortunately, David found out at the Feb. 9 Student Senate meeting that – according to past and present chairs of the Projects Board – the actual USG allocation for last spring's budget was $26,000. Upon realizing this mistake, David sought to restore the funds to the Projects Board to maintain the USG's commitment to student groups. Except for confusion about how the $20,000 number made it to the web-page, the USG's desire to fix the mistake was strong and immediate.

The decision to restore the $6,000 to the Projects Board budget was made because David and USG treasurer Luis Guzman '99 realized that the budget had been mistakenly drafted. Despite insinuations mentioned in the 'Prince' articles, this was not done in response to any fears of public backlash against the $20,000 number or pressured loyalty from student groups that endorsed the victorious USG Executive Committee candidates.

All campus leaders should rest assured that there was never any deliberate attempt by the USG to harm student groups, or de-prioritize Projects Board funding. David and the 1998 USG never voted to "cut any money from the budget," but rather the budget was drawn up relying on an incorrect budget number.

I take all the blame for forwarding on to the 1998 USG a budget that was not fully updated and apologize deeply to all student leaders for any suspicions these discussions have raised over the last few days. Sometimes, mistakes are made when a large amount of information is transferred from one person to the next. This was nothing more than a simple, honest error and student groups should feel confident that all concerns – financial or otherwise – will be addressed by David Ascher and the current USG administration just as well as they were during my time in office. Jeff Siegel '98 Former USG president