By: Netani Shields  | 

Breaking Down Wilf Student Government Spending for Fall 2020

Triggered by a new constitutional amendment passed in last spring’s elections, the Wilf Campus Student Government (WSCG) has released their semester expenditures to the public. Sent over the WSCG WhatsApp group in early January, the data includes the amounts that Yeshiva Student Union (YSU), Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY), Yeshiva College Student Council (YCSC) and the men’s Sy Syms School of Business Student Council (SYMSSC) spent and contributed towards club events and other student activities throughout the Fall 2020 semester. The Beren Campus student government organizations do not publicly release their expenditures.

The Commentator combed through the many spreadsheets so you don’t have to, and is here to break it down.

SOY’s total spending reached $14,129.63. Their most costly operation was the annual Chanukah sale, totalling $5,639.50, although much of that expense was made back in revenue. The majority of SOY’s expenditures went towards enhancing religious life on the uptown campus; they spent roughly $9,000 on incentives to encourage students to stay in for shabbos, including free and discounted meals and Eichler’s gift cards. “It is an honor for SOY to be able to run programs which create a strong learning environment on campus,” remarked SOY President Akiva Poppers (SSSB ‘22) in a recent Commentator article.

YSU spent $12,914 this past semester, with the organization focusing its monetary efforts primarily on social events. Comedy Night, which featured headliner Mark Normand, and Chanukahfest, a co-ed carnival-esque party held in Furst Hall, are listed as the two most costly efforts taken on by the council, at $2,477.50 combined. When asked to comment, YSU President Zachary Greenberg (SSSB ‘21) emphasized this approach, saying “from the Joey Chestnut Q&A to the hybrid virtual/in-person Comedy Night, virtual concerts with Simcha Leiner and John King to a virtual hypnotist show and the in-person Chanukah Fest, all [were] fantastic events [that] took place this fall semester.”

YCSC used $2,940.96 over the course of the semester to sponsor diverse events and initiatives, such as $100 towards a virtual Family Feud night and $150 on a “Combatting Anti-Semitism During the Pandemic” seminar. SYMSSC only spent $825 the entire semester, and although their document notes that “21 events were run by Syms (Wilf) clubs this semester,” all the money went towards general expenses, such as $30 for a donut giveaway.

The different groups often collaborate and split costs on events. For example, for a YU talent show this past semester, all the councils are listed as having split the $140 cost evenly. When it came to buying Chanukah decorations to adorn campus, SOY covered 60% of the cost, at $366.13, and YSU took care of the remaining 40%, for $244.09.

Perhaps because of the intense limitations that come with a global pandemic, none of the student organizations even came close to reaching their maximum budget allotted by the Office of Student Life. SOY spent 38% of their $28,644 budget,YSU a little more than 30% of a $42,960 budget, and YCSC a paltry 20% out of $15,000. SYMSSC was the most frugal of all, dishing out only 5.5% of their $15,000 allotment! This is due to the fact that most events were conducted over Zoom, where speaking fees are generally cheaper. Plus, for virtual social events, councils were usually able to run something for free.

On Feb. 3, Senior Director of Student Life Rabbi Josh Weisberg confirmed with members of student government that the extra money from the fall semester will be rolled over to the spring semester, according to Poppers. 

Another form details some 82 active Yeshiva University clubs and the events they hosted along with the pricing. Clubs receive their event funding from the aforementioned student councils. But this past fall, most clubs didn’t request funds for their events at all. The Networking Club, Israel Club, Menswear Club and the JP Dunner Political Science Society all fall into this category. Despite being four of the most popular clubs on campus, they found guest speakers who chose to volunteer their time, rather than charge a hefty fee. A large number of clubs chose to not host a single event all semester long, at least not in an official capacity.

The single most expensive event of the semester was the Simcha Leiner concert in December, which set back YSU, SOY, YCSC and SYMSSC a combined $5,000. The Beren Campus’ Torah Activities Council and Stern College for Women Student Council also chipped in, but the amount they contributed is not publicly available.

The importance of these forms might be easily overlooked by most, but the numbers are more than just numbers. For a student body as small and close-knit as YU, transparency is something to be cherished. Likewise, it’s pleasing to see that some of the most successful and creative events of the past semester, like the Syms Virtual Happy Hour, were quite cheap.

The coming light at the end of the long coronavirus tunnel brings many opportunities for the new Spring semester. More students have returned to campus housing and are expecting social outlets. “I would like to remind the club heads that we are eager to work with them to run events and provide them with funding for whatever they need,” expressed Greenberg.

Photo Caption: The Wilf Campus Student Government has released their fall semester expenditures.
Photo Credit: Pixabay