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Why Does the UA Need All That Money?

Why Does the UA Need All That Money?

It's time for Undergraduate Association elections again, that big annual event with ballot boxes, pictures of smiling candidates on the front page of The Tech, and all the usual hoopla. Every year around this time I wonder what is the UA, and what is it supposed to do?

Looking through the three campaign platforms, I see a lot of proposals for what the candidates intend to do, but these platforms are diverse and little help in figuring out what the UA is actually supposed to do. Presumably the UA was created to fill some sort of need, and thus has regular duties which all candidates are expected to perform, but what is that need? Judging by the voter turnout for past UA elections, most people are as baffled as I am on this issue.

This issue recently became more interesting when I learned about how the money flows in that organization. While I can't vouch for the total accuracy of this information, from what I've seen the buck gets passed like this: the Dean's Office hands the UA about $90,000 every year. UA takes almost $20,000 of this, and hands the rest to the UA Finance Board to divide up among the many student-run activities. This should raise a number of questions, such as: Why is the money given to the UA instead of directly to Finboard? Why is the UA approving Finboard's allocation to student groups when the UA has nothing to do with student groups? (The Association of Student Activities is responsible for coordinating student groups.) And most of all, why does the UA automatically get this chunk of money without having to present a justified budget to Finboard first?

I'm not saying that the UA is all bad or needs to go away or be stronger. However, I am most curious to know what they are supposed to be doing, and why they need all that money to do it.

B. Matthew Knapp '95

Former ASA Secretary