Student Government

The University of Chicago

Our thoughts on annual awards for SG leadership

Tyler Kissinger9 Comments

I can easily say that the most defining aspect of my four years at the University of Chicago has been participating in Student Government. It's been rewarding beyond words to work to make UChicago a better place for all of its students. And we've accomplished a fair bit along the way, from the U-Pass and the SLRA program to unprecedented growth in participation of graduate students in SG and the passage of a budget that increases support for RSOs, academic teams, and resources for sexual assault awareness.

As a first-generation and largely self-supporting College student who is dependent on financial aid, every hour I spent on SG work came at the expense of my coursework and ability to work a campus job to support myself. Participating in SG is an all-consuming experience -- I'd estimate the average week has me spending 15-20 hours a week on SG-related work. Most of that work is behind-the-scenes, and enables us to allocate funding to RSOs, make sure students are represented on University committees, or participate in university hiring decisions. 

Looking back at my time at UChicago, I wouldn't trade the opportunity for serving in SG for anything. But at times, it made my life very hard. There were weeks when I was more worried about having the money to pay for bills or books than the next paper I had to write or project I needed to complete. I got dropped from classes a few times for missing bill deadlines. I've gone weeks without money in my bank account because I had hundreds of dollars of outstanding reimbursements for SG expenses. For much of my time at UChicago I was unable to engage in the classroom to the degree I wish I could have, and that came as a result of trying to work a campus job while prioritizing my work in SG above all else. While I'm immensely proud of the work that we've done in SG over my past two years as President, I know I could have done more if it weren't for this financial stress.

For a long time, all of this is something that was hard for me to talk about. There is a lot of shame associated with feelings of financial insecurity. But moving forward, as SG continues to grow as an institution capable of improving the experience of graduate and undergraduate students at UChicago, it is my view that these positions need be accessible to students of all backgrounds. Collectively, the three of us in Executive Slate work a total of six part-time jobs.  The amount of time it takes to do the work in these positions will only continue to grow as SG's impact on campus grows. That is why we are proposing for Executive Committee members to receive a small annual award -- essentially the equivalent of a part-time campus job. Many of our counterparts at peer universities see their tuition covered, or receive $10k+ annual salaries. This proposal is a more modest one that would help to guarantee that these positions will continue to be accessible to students of all backgrounds, and to help continue to grow the functions of Student Government.

I recognize that may not be a popular proposal -- it certainly wasn't when I proposed it (in a slightly different form) in Fall 2014. But I hope the past two years of work have shown the unique and important role SG can have in campus life, and I challenge anyone who has concerns about this program to come and talk with me. I'll be in Hallowed Grounds (second floor of the Reynold's Club) from 7-10pm this Sunday, as well as Monday 11am-noon and 3-5pm. I can also respond to emails at sg-president@uchicago.edu.

 

Tyler Kissinger, President

 

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For the most part, the points I have to make are already addressed in Tyler Kissinger's personal statement on the proposal for SG Leadership Awards (above). I write to contribute my personal story to the issue, because I believe it adds some dimension to the issue here, regarding accessibility of SG representation for all students.

To provide some context, I am a self-supporting international student on financial aid. I work a minimum of 14 hours each week across three jobs in order to support myself, and even so I can tell you that concerns regarding financial security are a constant in my life. As such, my biggest worry throughout my past year of service as Vice President for Administration has been a financial one. On weeks where Student Government responsibilities have demanded closer to 20 hours of work, hours spent on either class preparation or work for self-support have needed to give way. With the former, my class performance has suffered, and with the latter I have often gone hungry. (Tyler's account reflects the same.) And being an international student, when tax or visa issues have surfaced to place additional claims on the little available time, this financial insecurity has had me at my worst.

It is possible to do the work that we do without compensation. But for many students--including myself--it is excruciatingly difficult to put forth so much commitment in order to prioritise this responsibility when it functions directly to amplify their pervasive worry about basic sustenance. As a Slate, we stepped into our role with a promise to work toward the equality of campus opportunities for all students--and we have done much to this effect in the past year, among them our efforts to implement U-Pass in the College and SLRA. We hope to end the year on the same principle, by ensuring that elected SG positions are accessible to students of all backgrounds.

 

Alex Jung, Vice President for Administration

2016-2017 Budget Announcement

Executive CommitteeAdministrator

Today, in our capacity as members of the Student Government Executive Committee, we are announcing our recommendation for the SG budget for the 2016-2017 academic year.

As members of SG’s Executive Committee, we are responsible for the oversight and management of the SG budget. In all, SG allocates more than $2 million in support of student life and student organizations. The SG budget supports RSOs, academic teams, arts groups, and initiatives like the Graduate Council Travel Fund and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Over the past year, we’ve been involved in extensive conversations about our budget and the degree to which it meets the needs of the students we represent. Two-thirds of the students represented by SG are graduate students, and while we’ve seen Graduate Council’s budget grow substantially over the past two years there still exist big opportunities to do more for graduate students through our budget. At the same time, needs for RSOs and other student organizations have continued to grow and require additional resources to be met.

With this in mind, we are putting forward a budget recommendation that will balance these needs and provide more resources for all students and student organizations. Under this proposal, arts groups funded through the Program Coordinating Council like the Major Activities Board and Doc Films, academic teams, and RSOs would see their funding increased for the 2016-2017 year. In addition, support for graduate students would be increased, through the expansion of the Graduate Council’s budget by nearly 120% as well as continued efforts to improve the accessibility of all SG funding sources to graduate students.

These recommendations will be made possible through an overall increase in SG’s annual budget, careful use of reserve funds and by further reducing (already small) administrative costs. Cuts will not be made to the funding sources for any student organizations.

This is just the framework for our budget proposal -- and we want the process of shaping SG’s 2016-2017 budget to be as participatory and open as possible. The budget will be formally voted on by members of the College and Graduate Councils during SG’s Assembly meeting on May 2. Over the next couple of weeks, we will release more information about the budget allocation process. We’ve created a page on the SG website to share regular updates regarding the budgeting process. As always, feel free to contact us if you have thoughts you’d like to share.

 

 

Tyler Kissinger, President
Alex Jung, Vice President for Administration
Kenzo Esquivel, Vice President for Student Affairs

Eric Holmberg, Chair of the College Council

Casey Anthony, Co-chair of the Graduate Council
Elliott Balch, Co-chair of the Graduate Council

Katie Perri, Graduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees
Shae Omonijo, Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees

Carlos Ortiz, Community and Government Liaison

 

Airport Shuttle program to be reinstated for Spring 2016

Administrator

After discussion with the College Council and members of the student body, Executive Slate plans to reinstate the end-of-quarter airport shuttle program to O'Hare Airport for Spring 2016. 

While still noting the cost of the program, we recognize the important role it plays in reducing transportation costs for students, particularly those traveling to O'Hare Airport. We will continue to work with members of the College Council to ensure smooth administration of the program. The future of the program, given the College's future participation in the U-Pass program, will be subject to the approval of the College and Graduate Councils as a part of SG's budgeting process for the 2016-2017 academic year. More information about this process will be available shortly, and we will welcome input from members of the student body.

 

Tyler Kissinger, President
Alex Jung, Vice President for Administration
Kenzo Esquivel, Vice President for Student Affairs

Statement on recent campus events

Administrator

At its February 8th meeting, the Student Government Assembly (made up of the College and Graduate Councils) voted to sign on to an open letter distributed by the Muslim Students Association, the Organization of Black Students, and Students for Justice in Palestine. Below is a statement from the Executive Slate of Student Government.

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February 9, 2016

Yesterday, the Student Government (SG) Assembly voted to sign on to an open letter distributed by the Muslim Students Association, the Organization of Black Students, and Students for Justice in Palestine. While it was not a unanimous decision, the reservations expressed by representatives in the room more specifically concerned the wording of the demands, rather than its overall intent or content.

After previous events of racism and Islamophobia on campus, the University's most substantive response was the announcement of a "campus climate survey" on diversity and inclusion on campus. The survey was proposed in December 2014 but has yet to have begun, and since its announcement it has been pushed back at least twice. Students want the University to act on these issues beyond just announcing a survey, and -- particularly amidst its $4.5 billion capital campaign -- they want the University to invest more in resources that will create the kind of community UChicago students, faculty, and staff deserve; namely, one without discrimination. This requires, among other actions, clarification of the University’s policy in regard to Greek organizations as well as an appropriate response to other relevant student demands including the institution of a living wage for all University employees (student and non-student). 

The University of Chicago Student Government stands in solidarity with the Students for Justice in Palestine, the Organization of Black Students, the Muslim Students Association, and with all affected students beyond the document's authorship. It is our stance that the University has a responsibility to clarify its relationship to its Greek life organizations on and around campus, and to establish and enforce guidelines that will hold groups accountable for the racist, misogynistic, and Islamophobic actions exhibited by its members.

Tyler Kissinger, President
Alex Jung, Vice President for Administration
Kenzo Esquivel, Vice President for Student Affairs

Openings on committees + hiring SG secretary

Tyler Kissinger

We are currently working to fill seats on a number of SG committees that are launching this quarter. Graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to participate.

  • The Annual Allocations Committee allocates approximately $400,000 in funding for RSOs in the spring. More information and applications may be found here
  • The Election and Rules Committee oversees Spring elections and the enforcement of SG's governing documents. Applications may be found here

In addition, we are seeking to hire 1-2 students to serve as secretaries for SG. Secretaries assist with the operation of SG and fulfill duties that include taking minutes at meetings, handling logistics for SG events and meetings (including room reservations and food orders), the filing of financial documents, and a wide array of other tasks. To apply to serve as SG secretary, click here