Students angered over Student Government’s lack of financial transparency

Kaushiki Roy, News reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the October 29 flipbook.

UT students raised concerns regarding Student Government’s financial transparency and lack of communication to the student body during SG’s assembly meeting Tuesday. 

During the meeting, students commented on the lack of transparency SG had during budgeting funds, creating a toxic environment with the campus community, and their mishandling of communication through Twitter. Some students said the way SG responded to criticism made them feel intimidated to speak up.

Over the weekend, nutrition senior Antony Rodriguez posted SG’s financial budget reports on Instagram. UT gave SG about $160,000 to distribute this school year. The reports showed SG allocated over $30,000 to fund the stipends of the seven executive board members and set aside $16,000 for student scholarships, which caused student outrage on social media.

Rodriguez said the assembly meeting proved less than successful as SG questioned him about personal interactions unrelated to the issues he brought up about finances. Rodriguez said members of the executive board “almost prosecuted” him over his friendships with different student leaders and various interactions he may have had with the executive board.

“My goal is not to tell the whole board to release their personal documents because that’s not what I want,” Rodriguez said. “My goal is to change the culture to be more transparent because the people who are in (student leadership positions) get a set of privileges a lot of students might not be aware of. … I just feel like it should be transparent, and they should be checked.”

SG advocacy director Mackenzie Smith said on her Twitter Spaces yesterday that the executive board will be issuing a formal apology to Rodriguez as well as addressing ongoing student concerns Nov. 1. 

Directly after the assembly meeting, a UT student created a Twitter Spaces where over 180 students joined to voice their concerns over SG’s unprofessional actions toward Rodriguez for nearly four hours. 

Students also called for greater action from SG as they are some of the only students with influence over University administrators.

SG financial director Grant Marconi said he also believes SG members should hold themselves at a higher standard when responding to the student body on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.

Students like Maria Henriquez, a mathematics and chemistry senior, said after seeing SG’s defensiveness and lack of communication with students at the recent assembly meeting, she was hesitant to voice her concerns to them.

“I feel like they only just talk to a certain group of people,” Henriquez said. “I struggled with this because they don’t effectively listen to the student body and solve issues.”

Marconi said moving forward, the executive board will try its best to rebuild trust between the government and the student body.

“I think the biggest solution is just to listen,” Marconi said. “We can work 12-hour days, but (in the end), if we’re not listening to people, then those 12 hours are wasted. And so I think the executive team is going to take time to listen, and we’re going to communicate what we are doing.”