VSG changes budget distribution to provide more funds for co-sponsorships and committees

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Caroline Bodnya

Going into the new academic year, one of Vanderbilt Student Government’s main goals has been to empower students by providing more money for student organizations.

Work towards this goal began last May, when the executive board met to discuss redistributing the budget in order to allocate more funds to committees and co-sponsorships. The VSG Co-Sponsorship program grants funds to university-registered organizations for events that they host for the entire campus.

To be eligible for a co-sponsorship, an event must be one day and open to the entire student body. Co-sponsorship applications are due by the 15th of the month prior to the event.  They can be for up to $1,000 in funding, with the exception of one “co-sponsorship of the month,” which can provide funds equal to or less than half of the event’s budget. Treasurer Naathan Mohan believes the budget redistribution will provide more money for events run by campus organizations such as Diwali and Dance Marathon, as well as increase student awareness about campus events and initiatives.

According to student body president Ariana Fowler, budget redistribution began with the realization that too large a portion of the VSG budget was being used internally for retreats and professional development seminars for members, as opposed to supporting campus organizations. This led to the decision that the most effective way in which VSG can support the student body is through slimming internal expenses to allow for allocation of funds to other campus initiatives.

Fowler said the reallocation of funds is just the beginning of VSG’s efforts to run a government that supports the student body. The next step involves collaboration with students in order to avoid event over-programming and giving money to events centered on impactful and thought-provoking issues.

This change will allow us to put our money where our mouth is in terms of truly supporting and empowering students,” Fowler said. “Already, we have seen a massive influx of co-sponsorship requests, especially from smaller orgs who may not have hefty AcFee allocations.”

In addition to refuting the idea of a “self-serving” student government, the change in the budget distribution has already begun to help organizations and initiatives on campus, making programs and events from Vanderbikes to Vanderbilt Ventures to the “It’s on Us” sexual assault awareness week possible. For Mohan, shifting the budget to focus externally has brought overlooked issues into perspective.

“What [VSG] is trying to do is take a lot more input [from the students], and one of the primary ways in which they’re doing that is they’re having listening sessions which any student can attend and give their suggestions going forward on what [we] need to do to change,” Mohan said. “So things have been coming to our attention much easier, and we’re working on fixing those problems in a more effective fashion.”

Moving forward, VSG hopes to rewrite a statute limiting availability of co-sponsorships to one-day events, use their budget as effectively as possible and maintain transparency in this time of transition. According to student body vice president Taylor Gutierrez, the budget redistribution will ultimately allow VSG to support more organizations through co-sponsorships while allowing the committee branch of VSG to plan impactful programming for the student body.

“We crafted this budget to help the student body, and I hope that people not only recognize that but truly feel that VSG has been more impactful and beneficial than ever before,” Gutierrez said.