Student Government Press Release

Today the Brooklyn College Student Governments of CLAS, SGS and GSO revealed an exciting new budgeting plan.

Ten percent of their budgets are to be voted upon directly by students.

Through the new initiative, called Participatory Budgeting, students will come together in two Town Hall meetings (March 6 and 7) to discuss student needs and priorities. They will then propose specific projects to address these needs. Student volunteers will work with representatives from the administration, student government and faculty to develop these proposals into functional projects and make sure each proposal is financially, technically and legally feasible. These proposals will then be placed on a ballot and students will vote on which ones to fund in April (around the same time as the Student Government election).

Traditionally, these funds are utilized by student clubs. While it is important to support clubs (as well as their events) and initiatives, Student Government feels that students who are either not in clubs or have needs that clubs cannot address ought to have a chance to be heard. Every student should, and now will, have the power to submit their ideas for projects and to improve their experience at Brooklyn College. Additionally, using this money in such a manner enables the student body as a whole to benefit from the funds. After all, the students themselves provide these funds. In order to ensure that this is the case, we are designating the funds to be used for proposals that are "infrastructural" in nature, that is, ideas that will improve the experience of the Brooklyn College student body at large and not just specific students or specific groups of students.

Participatory budgeting originated in Brazil and has proven successful in thousands of cities around the world in the past several years. Recently, a city ward in Chicago began allocating discretionary capital funds through participatory budgeting. New York is only the second U.S. city to ever attempt it. Brooklyn College will be the first college or university to attempt this in the Untied States. We are working with a member of the team who helped implement the concept in Chicago; his organization the Participatory Budgeting Project is also working with four NYC Council-members who are currently doing participatory budgeting in their districts.

We hope the project will increase transparency, make government more efficient, and get students more involved. Democracy is in the making, will you be a part of it? For more information, e-mail us.