Universities and schools are not immune to the Participatory Budgeting bug. In a recent article on the Nation website there was a report on an initiative in New York.
is pressing to bring the process to the City University of New York, one of the nation’s largest public universities featuring 24 campuses serving more than 270,000 students. Student Organization for Democratic Alternatives (SODA)
SODA is working with the Roosevelt Institute, which listed PB as one of its Top 10 Ideas for Economic Development, to make the potential of student participatory budgeting a reality. The article cites Chandni Tarek, a Queens College student involved with SODA, who said participatory budgeting “makes the democratic process more personal, the way it should be.”
In the UK PB is also starting to happen on campus, as reported in a recent blog by Jez Hall.
SOAS Student Union has recently run a form of PB process to spend some of its own budget, and last year Leeds Trinity Student Union did the same. Lancaster Student Union had a similar initiative called ‘yours to spend’ last year.
But probably the most interesting attempt in the UK so far has been at Leeds University Union (LUU), which has a hybrid PB model, where ideas submitted are first screened by a randomly selected panel of students. If 75% agree, the idea passes and becomes Union policy.
If it fails to reach that level but receives above 25% approval it goes to the student body for a vote. If approved then it becomes policy for LUU to implement new work. All based on an idea emerging from a member of the student body.
So far all these UK examples are being led by students, often with the support of staff from the National Union of Students. One day, just maybe, Universities themselves will get the idea that good governance and student engagement matters, and PB is the way to do it.
- Read the blog by Jez Hall in full