ASUU budget needs clarifications

By and

During student government elections, the Revolution Party, led by Tayler Clough and Rachel Rizzo, promised to post the budget of the Associated Students of the University of Utah online. ASUU made good on the promise just this week, and students can now track the administration’s expenditures on ASUU’s website. Although ASUU deserves credit for making the budget accessible, most students will find it difficult to make any sense of the budget’s unintelligible organization.

Although the budget seems comprehensive and is current to the first week of September, it is impossible to decode how a large portion of the funds listed were actually spent. For example, $1,287.80 was spent May 1. The expense was cleared by the chief of staff, includes no details and is listed simply as “development,” which could mean nearly anything. The spending is accounted for, but anyone not included in the budgeting process won’t be any nearer to discovering how that money was spent after consulting the budget.

Granted, not all of the budget listings are so indecipherable. According to the budget, ASUU spent $12.18 on food for the outdoor movie Sept. 3. If only all the expenditures8212;and some of the larger ones8212;were so clear. Instead, the document is saturated with ambiguous details that make it difficult for students to interpret. However, this one clear example does show the potential of posting the budget online.

This year’s ASUU leaders have demonstrated their good intentions by keeping their promise, but this first attempt at transparency is just that8212;a first attempt. Now that the budget is public, ASUU needs to make it reader-friendly.

Instead of doing the tune-up alone, ASUU should seek guidance from the School of Business. With the foundation already laid, it wouldn’t take too much for an individual or group with business and accounting experience to make the budget coherent.

If the budget was made public to achieve the goal of transparency, then students have to be able to understand what it means and how their money was spent. Otherwise it’s just an empty, lip-service check-off of the campaign’s promises list.

[email protected]

Preview: Wednesday, the Chronicle Editorial Board will look into the expenditures listed on the online budget.