Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, April 19, 2024 — Houston, TX

Deputy treasurer Stallings and NSR Ngo compete for SA treasurer

Francesca Nemati / Thresher

By Prasi Desai     2/13/24 10:29pm

Josh Stallings, currently the Student Association deputy treasurer, and Thomas Ngo, currently a new student representative from McMurtry College, are the two candidates vying for SA treasurer.

Stallings, a Duncan College sophomore, said he’s running for the position because of his experience as deputy treasurer, where he assists the current treasurer and helps manage the Blanket Tax Committee. The Blanket Tax Committee is a group of student representatives who supervise and allocate the Blanket Tax, a fund that financially supports student activities. The Blanket Tax is an $85 fee that every student pays with their tuition to support certain organizations as determined by the SA.

As a member of the BTC, Stallings said he helped allocate money to clubs with the Initiative Fund, a pool of money for student organizations to hold “new and innovative projects that serve the interests of the Rice community.”

“I’ve really enjoyed making decisions and helping communicate my opinion on the Blanket Tax Committee, especially as it relates to the Initiative Fund,” Stallings said. “When election time came around, I realized that I wanted to do that again, and … the treasurer is more active [than the deputy treasurer] in the Student Association.”

Ngo, a freshman, said his coursework in finance, experience as an NSR and training as a member of the Blanket Tax Committee are why he’s qualified for the role. He also said he views the position as a platform to improve student experiences and make positive changes.

“I see it as the perfect position where I can use my strengths to create a positive, tangible impact,” Ngo said. 

Ngo added that his position as both an NSR and an international student from Vietnam has given him the opportunity to engage with individuals of a variety of different backgrounds, including international and new students alike.

“What gives me the edge is [a] better overall understanding of the student body, especially those [who] can be underrepresented,” Ngo said. “[International students] do have different perspectives and see many things, including finance, differently.”

As treasurer, Stallings said he would work on expanding funding methods for student organizations, including the Initiative Fund and Blanket Tax. 

Ngo, on the other hand, said he would focus on restructuring and organizing the Blanket Tax Committee, with each committee member focusing on a certain expense type. 

“That way we have a whole team full of experts who have better insights and can make better judgments,” Ngo said. 

According to Stallings, the Blanket Tax hasn’t been raised in nearly 10 years, since its value was set at $85 in 2015, resulting in a $100,000 deficit in funds due to inflation that could’ve been allocated to clubs. Raising the current Blanket Tax to accommodate for inflation has been the subject of student opinion, and even part of other SA candidates’ platforms. Stallings said he would consider calling to re-raise the Blanket Tax — which would require an amendment to the SA constitution — as treasurer, but would seek student opinion about their tuition dollars as a deciding factor in the process.

With more funds, Stallings said he would like to explore the idea of adding more Blanket Tax Organizations, including groups like Rice PRIDE. 

Ngo intends to increase financial transparency, saying he wants to “break down that puzzle” of fund availability and allocation. As treasurer, he said he would increase collaboration between the Student Association and student clubs. 

“I want the [BTC] to collaborate more with clubs to cut unnecessary costs and negotiate better deals with outside vendors,” Ngo said. 

Aside from the treasurer’s immediate duties, Stallings said he’s passionate about supporting environmental sustainability, which he does in his free time working at the Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden. He also said he would support the expansion of mental health resources on campus. 

“I think that would be an interesting project to look at and see how other students feel about the resources available to them,” Stallings said. 

Ngo said he hopes to use his position to increase the Student Association’s engagement with the larger Rice community. 

“People tend to not care a lot about the SA,” Ngo said. “But … the Student Association has great people, great resources and a burning desire to help Rice students.” 

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 4/17/24 5:23pm
Jones wins men’s and women’s Beer Bike races, GSA snags alumni

Jones College won both the women’s and men’s Beer Bike 2024 races, while the Graduate Student Association claimed the alumni team win. Hanszen College bike teams were the runner-up in the alumni and men’s races, while Brown College was the runner-up in the women’s race. Martel and McMurtry Colleges did not bike in the alumni race, according to the Rice Program Council’s final report, and the GSA was disqualified from the men’s race for accidentally sending out two bikers simultaneously.

NEWS 4/16/24 11:08pm
Rice SJP hosts protest in response to S.RES 02 tabling

Rice Students for Justice in Palestine staged a  walkout and protest in response to the tabling of S.RES 02, a resolution that proposed a divestment of student funds to Israel-aligned companies, outside the Allen Center, April 12. The protest occurred during Owl Days, when prospective students were touring the campus.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.