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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Getting to know your student government

By Christine Powell and Emily McTavish

The Undergraduate Student Government, or USG, isn’t just another acronym that gets thrown around campus; it is also an enormous part of the university. The undergraduate student body is represented by USG, a governing body of elected and appointed officials that includes executive, legislative and judicial branches.

While the elected officials attend SBU, USG is structurally and monetarily autonomous, functioning separately from the university. Its budget, which totals approximately $3.1 million a year, is financed by the mandatory Student Activity Fee of $94.25 paid each semester by all full-time undergraduate students and is unaffected by any state budget cuts. The budget must, however, receive approval from the University President’s designee, Vice President of Student Affairs Peter Baigent.

Resources garnered from the Student Activity Fee fund USG’s operations, opening weekend activities, large-scale events like the Roth Pond Regatta, outdoor movies and discounted trips to local attractions. Other funds are allocated to clubs and organizations on campus, which must first apply for official recognition by the USG.

USG also maintains agencies like the Student Activities Board (SAB) and the Student Programming Agency (SPA), which is known for bringing in comedians like Kevin Hart and Aziz Ansari, guest speakers like Ralph Nader and revitalizing the Stony Brook Concert series with acts like Wiz Khalifa and Bruno Mars. Additionally, the USG oversees Providing Academic Support to Students (PASS), a free tutoring service.

“USG is here to guide freshmen toward getting involved and finding out more of what Stony Brook had to offer,” Amanda Cohen, a senior English major and vice president of clubs and organizations, said in an email.

“If the case so happens that there is not, anyone is able to start a new club with the guidance of Student Activities and USG,” Cohen said.

USG was established in 2003 when it succeeded the Student Polity Association, which originally formed in 1959. The Student Polity Association’s original purpose was to distribute the Student Activity Fee.  However, it was decertified in 2002 due to invalid elections and an unapproved operating budget in the spring of 2001.

A new form of student government was needed to distribute and monitor the use of the Student Activity Fee, and so USG was born.  According to its website, USG currently oversees and funds more than 300 clubs and organizations on campus, hosts its own events and provides free tutoring centers for students.

The organization’s officials are elected by the undergraduate body. Members of USG’s executive board and senators receive stipends, and there is a payroll for employees.
The USG office is located in Suite 202 of the Student Activities Center and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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