Student Government budget allocates money to masks, hand sanitizers

Samantha Greyson

UT Student Government’s budget for this year includes plans to distribute masks and hand sanitizer around campus while placing plans for the Longhorn Athletics and Diversity and Inclusion agencies on hold. 

SG will vote to approve the $112,820 budget at its meeting next week, with the money allocated to different initiatives such as the Improve UT Challenge, Orange Outreach, SURE Walk and SG executive board stipends.

SG financial director Ethan Jones said SG created the budget with the mentality that the University may send students home at any point because of the pandemic. 

“The (budget) is ‘finalized,’ but we can always put more money toward it,” Jones, a public relations and business honors junior, said. “Are we going to get sent home tomorrow? We don’t know. We have to be mindful of how we can use our money diligently.”

Grant Marconi, chair of the SG Financial Affairs Committee, said a portion of the budget will continue to be used to distribute masks and hand sanitizer to students on campus. 

“There has been a lot of funding for masks, Germ-X and some of the typical (personal protective equipment) that will help students (on campus) stay protected during these times,” finance junior Marconi said. 

SG has received 18,000 masks from the University so far to distribute to students, Jones said. The masks have been contactlessly distributed on 24th and Nueces streets and at the Flawn Academic Center. 

The SG Diversity and Inclusion Committee was granted $200 of a $1,700 request for a Diversity and Inclusion flag initiative, Marconi said. 

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee planned to mount representative flags around campus, but the Financial Affairs Committee delayed the full financial request. The flag initiative is ongoing and pending action, Marconi said.

Marconi said throughout the semester, committees such as Diversity and Inclusion can pull from the Special Projects fund, a $10,000 sum set aside for up and coming initiatives.

The Financial Affairs Committee also denied a $2,725 request from the SG Longhorn Athletics Committee. The money requested was to be used for a spirit week, but the funds were denied because of the uncertainty of the event regarding COVID-19 safety practices, Marconi said.

First-year SG representative candidates also addressed COVID-19 concerns and accommodations in their policy platforms during the meeting. 

Ananya Choudhary, a first-year representative candidate, said she wants the University to provide increased online learning accommodations, including hotspots and closed captions on all recorded lectures. 

“With so many students online, information is even harder to find,” Choudhary, an international relations and global studies freshman, said. “If I become a first-year representative, or whoever does, they need to serve as a liaison between students and administration, so students don't have to find out information on clubs and resources by themselves but rather can go to the first-year representative.”

Pranav Konduri, a first-year representative candidate, said he wants the University to instate weekly mandatory COVID-19 testing, so people can still “do college” without harming others.

“As first years, with the pandemic going on, life is really unusual,” Konduri, a government and economics freshman, said. “A lot of our interests and the things that matter to us right now aren’t as predictable as other years. I want to do the best I can to relay the concerns of first years on campus."