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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

Josh Stallings for SA treasurer

By Thresher Editorial Board     2/20/24 9:39pm

Due to his experience as the current Student Association deputy treasurer, we, the Thresher Editorial Board, endorse Josh Stallings for SA treasurer.

Running on the ticket of presidential candidate Jae Kim, Stallings has echoed many of the sentiments that make up Kim’s campaign, which we also support. Stallings’ headlining proposal is to consider raising the Blanket Tax, a fee on student tuition that supports student groups. 

Some nine organizations, including the Thresher, Rice Program Council, University Court and the SA itself, negotiate annual budgets with the Blanket Tax Committee, which the SA treasurer runs. Other student clubs can request one-time allotments through the Blanket Tax Committee’s Initiative Fund for new events.

The Blanket Tax is written into the SA constitution and has been set at $85 since 2015. Adjusting for inflation, $85 today would have been just $64.41 nine years ago — a decrease of nearly a quarter of its real value. At the same time, the inflation-adjusted undergraduate tuition has increased from $41,560 in 2015-16 to $47,643.59 (in 2015 terms) for students matriculating in 2024-25.

Stallings said he wants to explore raising Blanket Tax as an option to continue supporting Blanket Tax Organizations, which have operated with a budget that is essentially shrinking. We support this exploration. We are mindful of yet another increase to student tuition, and we encourage the Blanket Tax Committee to find ways to realign spending, but it goes without saying that student organizations have less money per student today than nine years ago. Countless student organizations rely on Blanket Tax and Initiative Fund money for informative, fun and widely attended events, yet we’re running low on cash.

Another key part of Kim’s platform which Stallings reiterates is increasing the number of Blanket Tax Organizations, with a focus on Rice PRIDE. While Stallings acknowledges budget limitations in how many organizations can have Blanket Tax status, he told us he hopes to focus on groups with far-reaching and inclusive impacts on large parts of the student body. We support directing SA funding toward this goal, though we don’t know if Blanket Tax status is the best way to achieve it. Regardless, it requires a comprehensive look at funding, and we believe Stallings is the best person for the job.

Stallings’ opponent, Thomas Ngo, a current new student representative for McMurtry College, possesses a good vision for the role, but we are not sure he has amassed enough experience to become the treasurer. In an interview with the Editorial Board, Ngo rightly said that international students like himself bring a different and important perspective to finance. We hope that Ngo, who joined the Blanket Tax Committee earlier this semester, can remain a valuable voice at the table.

Editor’s Note: Features editor Sarah Knowlton and Arts and Entertainment editor Hadley Medlock recused themselves from this editorial due to close personal relationships with one of the candidates.

Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Prayag Gordy, Riya Misra, Nayeli Shad, Brandon Chen, Sammy Baek, Sarah Knowlton, Hadley Medlock and Pavithr Goli. 

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