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Massive USG budget increase goes to Lawnparties, Alcohol Initiative

Members of the Undergraduate Student Government sit in a room on campus to discuss the budget for the year.

USG meets for the first meeting of the semester

The USG's budget has ballooned, from $290,000 last semester to of $585,755 dollars for the semester as a starting amount, according to a presentation by USG Treasurer Walker Penfield ‘25. The allocation comes following an increase in student activities fees at the end of the spring semester from $45.50 dollars to $95.50 dollars for the current school year. During the meeting, students learned that fall Lawnparties had received a significant pay bump that also went towards alleviating other student groups’ contributions to food and activities

The estimated budget for this semester’s fall Lawnparties was $220,000 dollars. Increased cash did not just fund the event itself, as it was also used to replace Alcohol Initiative funding that previously supported food and other activities at Lawnparties. While this investment does not improve Lawnparties on its own, it provides more money for events targeted at students who don't drink.


“Given the expanded USG budget, we took on the complete funding of that programming,” Penfield told the ‘Prince.’ “This was discussed in the spring in the lead up to increasing the budget as one of the many trickle down effects of the USG being able to take financial burdens off of other university groups.”

Other changes to the fall budget included $30,000 dollars for athletic engagement, following the popularity of March Madness programming last year. All Senate members voted to approve the budget, with the exception of U-Councilor Isabella Shutt ’24, who abstained.

This was Shutt's first meeting in the USG Senate since being elected as a U-Councillor in the Spring. Shutt mounted an unsuccessful campaign for USG president in the fall.

Dean Jelani Johnson was announced as a new USG liaison, following the departure of Dean Dunne. Johnson, appointed this summer, serves as the inaugural Assistant Dean for Student Programming.

The group first discussed the Projects Board request for the Korean Students Association of Princeton (KSA), Muslim Students Association (MSA), and Asian American Students Association (AASA). All the groups requested over $2,000 dollars to host welcome banquets, with the primary goal of welcoming new students. All requests were approved in a unanimous vote. 

During the discussion of these approvals, Shutt questioned the Projects Board funding requirement that events be open to all students. Instead, she suggested that affinity groups be able to receive funding no matter whether their events were open, since there mission was to serve members of those communities. 


Projects Board Co-Chair Melissa Chun ’24 explained that “[clubs with funding] have to advertise widely, but at the end of the day, for example, if you're gonna have an Asian Students Association Event, in general people who would have attended that event anyway [will] come. And so the only reason we asked to advertise widely is because you can miss a few freshmen or [students who are] not well connected, or not on the listserv.”

President Stephen Daniels ’24 then inaugurated an additional organization structure for the Senate, which places representatives into smaller teams that will conduct weekly check-ins on topics such as movies, travel, community engagement, on-campus additions, and University services. Ideas that may be discussed in these groups included exploring funding for travel to the Jersey Shore or Trenton, expansion of Passport to the Arts and expanding or establishing co-funding for Pay with Points.

The structure would be separate from the existing committee-based organization of the Senate. USG has seven core committees: Academics, University Student Life, Campus and Community Affairs, Social, the Princeton Perspective Project, the Mental Health Initiative, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Sustainability. There also are three standing committees, including the Student Groups Recognition Committee, the Projects Board, and the Movies Committee.

The Campus Pub, a long-planned project of the Senate, was not one of the groups mentioned.

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USG meetings are open for all students to attend on Sundays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Aaron Burr Hall 219.

Nandini Krishnan is a staff News writer for the ‘Prince’ who usually covers the USG.

Please send any corrections to corrections[at]

Correction: This piece has been updated to clarify the funding for this year's Lawnparties event, and that the Princeton Perspective Project and the Mental Health Initiative are not standing USG committees, but core committees.