Students Leading Change office candidates, Matt Miller (left), Jack Bender (center), and Jessica Patterson (right) discuss student affairs at the ASUU debate at the Peterson Heritage Center on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016

For newly-elected student body president Jack Bender, reality still hasn’t quite sunk in.

“So far, not tabling today has been the biggest difference,” Bender said in an interview with The Daily Utah Chronicle.

Bender’s SLC Party was elected to the ASUU office March 4 by a margin of 438 votes. Although Bender won’t be inaugurated until April 27, he has already begun the lengthy process of enacting promised financial reforms.

In a meeting with ASUU Financial Advisor Rob Phillips, Bender and SLC Party Vice Presidents Matt Miller and Jessica Patterson made preparations to reorganize ASUU’s $1.7 million internal budget. They plan to meet with the director of each ASUU student board to discuss this year’s expenditures — asking questions such as Did they have enough funding? Was there money left over? — before reallocating the funds for next year.

“There’s a lot of things we need to look closely at and reevaluate,” Miller said. “Obviously all ASUU boards have a valid reason to ask for funding, so it’s up to us to allocate that money as fairly as possible.”

The internal restructuring, which Miller expects to take roughly two weeks, will serve as a warm-up before the SLC party tackles their larger platform involving student fees.

SLC plans to focus their efforts on the $85 “athletic fee” students pay each semester, along with the 12 percent athletics tax levied on all apparel with a U logo. The U gives $6.1 million worth of student fees to Utah Athletics annually, more than doubling the $2.7 million allocated by the next closest Pac-12 school, UCLA.

While Bender, a self-described “big sports fan,” is sympathetic to the U’s attempts to grow their programs, he said the financial burden should not be placed on students’ shoulders.

“We’re already making a lot of progress,” Bender said, noting that 2016-2017 will be the first year the U receives full Pac-12 financial benefits. “I think this is sort of the tipping point where we need to start looking at alternative [funding] options.”

Changing a university budget is a long process, Bender acknowledged, and a difficult one.

“I know it will be a lot of work, and I may be shot down. Most likely the student fees will not be changed this year,” Bender said. “But this is something we can propose for next year and forward.”

a.oligschlaeger@dailyutahchronicle.com

@allisonoctober

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