Tech’s Student Government Association (SGA) makes use of several financial accounts, but those with the least rules and oversight regarding their funds’ usage are the Undergraduate Legislative Reserve (ULR) and the Graduate Legislative Reserve (GLR).
According to SGA’s most recently revised Joint Finance Committee (JFC) policy — used to guide allocation of the funds the legislative body of SGA presides over — the ULR and GLR accounts are to be used by the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) and the Graduate Student Senate (GSS), respectively, for special SGA initiatives. According to Carson Silbert, SGA’s joint vice president of finance, ULR receives money each year from the collection of the student activity fee.
“Right now, we have about $17,000 remaining [in ULR],” Silbert said. “And at the beginning of each fiscal year, we get $21,000 in it.”
Silbert went on to say that this $21,000 makes up 70 percent of $30,000. The other $9,000 is given to GLR.
As for why the $30,000 amount was deemed appropriate, Silbert had this to say: “ … it was seen as our amount that we should control to directly impact the student body with our events. Because a lot of our events are seen as directly impactful to the student body … I’m not sure exactly where the $30,000 came up.”
JFC also notes that neither account is subject to the many rules and guidelines laid out in JFC policy, such as the prohibitions laid out in Article VIII, Section 1 of the document. This specifically disallows allocating funds for religious or political activities, food or beverages, food-related items such as utensils, lodging, past expenditures, retreats not open to non-members and more.
Student organizations that submit bills to SGA are generally subject to these restrictions as well as others, as their funding more often than not comes from either the Prior Year or Capital Outlay accounts.
“That is a good question,” Silbert said in regards to the fact that ULR is not held to JFC policy. “That’s something that I’ve wondered as well.”
As vice president of finance, Silbert serves as the chief financial advisor to both undergraduate and graduate arms of SGA. In addition, she is the chair of JFC and oversees the budgeting process. According to Silbert, however, there may be good reasons for the exemptions for ULR.
“Let’s say [for] food that’s funded through ULR — like recently we had a ‘Thank the Teacher’ day where we gave out cookies for students to write their note and thank their teacher,” Silbert said. “And recently we had a brown bag speaker series where we looked into diversity issues across campus and we had chicken nuggets for students. So it’s not held to JFC policy as much because student government is here to promote the student opinion and to promote our students academically, emotionally. So we’ve always just kind of set aside this money, for us to do what we want with it to help our students.”
Recent bills that have made use of ULR include 18U030 for funding for a Stinger bus for Research Institute Day at the Capitol, for which $455 was allocated. According to the bill, attendance was to be offered to members of undergraduate and graduate cabinets of SGA first, “then to the Government Relations Committee, and should more spots be available, SGA members on a first-come first-serve basis.” The bill was passed without any dissenting or abstaining votes in UHR.
Bill 18G017 allocated $63.96 for “Three Dozen Donuts, two Box of Joe” from GLR for a GSS Social early in February.
In mid-January, FreShGA was given $685 via a bill to cover rental costs for Tech Rec for a first-year leadership organization social event. According to the minutes from the legislative session, SGA Representative Matt Daigle had argued that, since ULR has never been exhausted, using the account for this purpose should not be an issue. Others did oppose this, however; Representative Amanda Reynolds was recorded as having said, “None of the other FLOs have asked us for money, so I think we should take it out of FreShGA’s budget and not the student body.” Ultimately, the money was provided through ULR.
The end of last semester saw bill (18U010) for SGA’s “Holiday Soiree” funded through ULR. Of the total $904.99 funding allocated, $299.99 was for “food.” It passed without any nay votes.
In past years, ULR and GLR have been used to fund padfolios for SGA undergrad and grad members (bill 14U010 and 14G004) as well as to provide money for food for JFC budget meeting meals (bill 14U027 and 14G008).
Events open to the general Tech community have been funded through ULR within the past year as well. Last November, UHR passed bill 18U008 unanimously. The bill allocated $5,000 from ULR to cover GT Day at the Zoo revenue. SGA week, an event open to all students, has been funded through ULR in the past as well (bill 17U006). The details of SGA’s bills can be found on jacketpages.gatech.edu/bills.
According to Silbert, even bills that are to be funded by ULR are reviewed by herself as well as the Student Organization Finance Office and Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Life John Stein, who serves as
Silbert explained the process that a bill to use ULR follows: “It goes to the House,” she said. “So if it’s a GLR bill it goes to the Senate and they review it and vote