The USG published its first annual report Monday, giving us an inside look at what exactly our student government does with $166,172.50 each year. Many of the initiatives described were projects we already know and love – Lawnparties & Houseparties festivities, Garden Theater movies, and the like. But even more interesting was the chance to see the things the USG does that we don’t usually hear about – works in progress, on hold, or shut down – and their own assessment of how they’re doing.
Yaro kicked it off with an interpretation of the USG’s mission: “make students happy.” If that’s the goal, then their emphasis, at least as evidenced by where they put their dollars, makes sense. During the fall semester, 46.6% of the total budget went to social projects – Lawnparties and the UFO (just like you learned in ECO 100, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: Garden Theater movies might be free for you, but Princeton’s picking up the $17,500 tab). Add in Projects Board funding, and it jumps to 67.7%.
Still, it’s a pretty heavy focus on fun for an organization whose constitution begins with the following noble mission statement:
The Undergraduate Student Government is dedicated to the proposition that students must be included in the making of decisions that affect them. We hark back to the words of Woodrow Wilson: We shall fight for the things which we have carried nearest to our hearts…for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments.
It seems like the USG might agree.
“Most notably, we were weakest in the area that matters the most: academics,” Yaro notes in the opening. “The areas in which we can and did achieve the most are the areas where the benefit to students is the least impactful.”