New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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A look inside the student government’s budget

NYU’s student government receives an operating budget of around $500,000 every academic year. Last year, it spent the most on Violet 100 programming, conference funding and stipends, with thousands of dollars also put toward a banquet and retreats.

The student government budget was around $524,000 last year, with the most money having been spent on the spring spirit week event Violet 100, grants for students to attend conferences and stipends, according to budget documents obtained by WSN.

The Student Government Assembly used around $298,000 of its operating budget on Violet 100 programming, $75,000 on conference funding and $20,000 on stipends. In addition to its operating budget, the student government also helps administer the Initiative Fund, an additional $500,000 allocated toward non-SGA-related projects with university approval. 

“It is tuition dollars that we’re using,” SGA chair Ryan Carney said. “So we really want to make sure that we’re benefiting students — through events, through town halls, through tabling — to really making sure we’re connected with students so we can understand what their experience is like, so then when we have our meetings with administrators, we can really try to address those concerns.”

The student government also spent over $19,000 on its annual banquet, a celebratory event for SGA members and some administrators at the end of the year. It also used $11,706 to pay for two retreats for SGA members during the fall and spring semesters.

This year, the student government will use a significant amount of its budget on Project 61 — an initiative aimed at connecting the SGA to all 61,000 students across the university’s global network — according to Carney. He said that this year, the student government has also been using the money to hold sporting events, blood and swab drives and promote Swipe it Forward — a program that allows students to donate their extra meal swipes. Carney added that student government committees are currently working on expanding student scholarship opportunities.

“The focus is really to use the budget to connect with as many students as possible to really address their concerns and also program to their needs,” Carney said. “Like ‘what do they want to see in their student experience?’”

A member of SGA, who asked to remain anonymous, said that they believed that the administration should allow the Initiative Fund money to be used for programs that would benefit the entire student body. 

“Those $500,000 could have been used for student scholarships or could have been used entirely for supporting the Swipe it Forward program, something the administration has reduced this year to one swipe a week,” the student said. “I understand the sentiment behind [the fund], as well as doing projects that are exciting for everyone else, but that is why the SGA budget exists and I feel like that’s why the SGA budget should be utilized.”

Carney said the SGA had spoken with NYU Dining in order to try to allocate some of the division’s budget toward Swipe it Forward. However, he said this would have made the program too similar to Courtesy Meals, an initiative the university created to provide dining dollars to students facing financial difficulty.

Initiative Fund director James Collett said the fund was created to implement projects on campus that would take less than a year to complete. However, Collett said that the budget recommendation process the SGA must go through for every purchase can be an obstacle.

“It’s hard sometimes to see the tangible impacts of our advocacy because it’s slow work,” Collett said. “The Initiative Fund will definitely increase the student awareness of SGA, mainly because there are more tangible impacts of our work, there are going to be physical things that they can point to and say, ‘That’s what my student government did for me.’”

Contact Graylin Lucas and Mariapaula Gonzalez at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and
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