UT System proposal seeks to give students voice in budget plans

Lauren Giudice

The UT System Student Advisory Council approved a recommendation to implement more student involvement in budgetary decision-making on Saturday.

UT-Austin’s current system of college tuition budget advisory councils influenced the new recommendation.

“Students really weren’t involved in the budget-making process, their role was basically reactionary,” said Michael Morton, UT-Austin Senate of College Councils communications director. “They didn’t really have any input into it. Since CTBACs were founded last semester at UT, it has put students in a proactive role and they can actually have a say and actually have their voice heard by administrators.”

The councils will bring the resolution in front of the Board of Regents in May. If it is approved, every UT System school will either be encouraged or required to form college tuition advisory councils.

Chelsea Adler, president of the UT Senate of College Councils, and UT Student Government President Scott Parks represented UT at the council meeting on Saturday. Each UT System school sends two representatives. Grace Bielawski, the UT-Dallas student body president, drafted the resolution.

“Grace drafted the resolution based on research that she had done on different campuses,” said Dina Shahrokhi, UT-Dallas student body vice president. “A lot of it was based on what UT-Austin has done as well as comments from her committee members which included representatives from all the different UT system schools.”

Shahrokhi said because of budget cuts, there will be a lot of changes, and a lack of student representation is unacceptable because it is the students’ educations that will be affected.

“At UT-Dallas, currently, to my knowledge, we do not have any system in place to where the students have any institutional say in what will happen within the budgetary cycle,” Shahrokhi said. “So if this were to pass, of course it would still be up to the individual institutions, including UT-Dallas, to actually implement the plan even if it’s highly requested by the regents.”

Adler said it is vital to have students informed about budget decisions and the administration needs to understand where students’ priorities are.

“It’s been an idea for a while from past Senate leaders, and so when I got elected back in April, the Vietnamese language program had just been cut, and that was when a bunch of student leaders sat down and said we really need to have students to have a voice in this process,” Adler said.