UPUA in the Collegian

April 29, 2008

Great article in the Collegian today about UPUA’s spending:

Check on UPUA spending sensible

To anyone who’s disappointed that the University Park Undergraduate Association will have to apply for funds on a case-by-case basis next semester, we’d like to remind you of some of the better student government expenditures we saw this year.

$750 on T-shirts.

$186.33 on ballpoint pens.

And of course, the infamous $436 for dinners at Chili’s Grill and Bar.

The Fee Allocation Board (FAB) wrote Hillary Lewis’ administration a check for $30,000 last year with only the stipulation that they spend it. And our leaders in student government couldn’t even do that well.

But there’s a new sheriff in town this year — the University Park Allocation Committee is re-absorbing FAB’S responsibilities as the disburser of the student activity fee funds.

UPAC says it’s willing to give UPUA a block grant for bare-bones operational expenses, but from now on, our student government will have to appeal to the committee separately for each project requiring funds, just like every other student group on campus.

No complaint from us. After the travesty that was last year’s “I’m pissed about this” polling campaign, we think it’s about time someone holds UPUA accountable for how it spends its money.

Yes, this will limit UPUA President Gavin Keirans’ ability to push through some of his more ambitious plans. And yes, it could slow the march of change our newly-elected president seems bent on pursuing.

However, students have a fair arbiter in UPAC, which pledges to base its allocation decisions on the financial feasibility of the proposal, not its ideological goals. After all, UPAC was the agency that gave the Young Americans for Freedom the funds required to bring Ann Coulter to Penn State. A fair check on UPUA by UPAC is the best thing students concerned with cutting wasteful spending by student leaders — and cognizant of the need for impartiality — could hope for.

We are all in favor of a powerful student government. But if our student activity fee dollars are going to be spent on Chili’s, we’d like to be invited to the meal.