The Student Association Finance Committee is calling for greater transparency in student organizations’ spending by requiring monthly reviews of all groups' budgets starting this fall.
Finance chair and University-at-large Senator John Bennett said frequent check-ups on organizations’ spending will prevent misuse of SA funds as the student government pilots a new strategy for funding student groups.
In their last meeting of the spring, the SA voted to overhaul their funding allocation process to give student groups greater discretion over their individual budgets. Under the new system, the SA will dole out 85 percent of its funds to student organizations at the beginning of the year. This money is intended to cover each groups' expenses for the entire year.
In the past, the SA only gave slightly more than half of its funds during initial allocations. The finance committee would then distribute the rest of the money through co-sponsorships while groups planned additional events.
Bennett initially opposed last year’s overhaul of financial allocations, concerned by the greater autonomy student organizations would have with their budgets.
“I was worried it’d be easy for student organizations to inflate their numbers and spend money on things not sanctioned by the SA,” Bennett said. He said conducting monthly reviews of groups’ payments will ensure all expenses are in line with the itemized budgets groups must submit during the allocation process. If an organization’s spending does not match its budget, the group will face a fine in the amount of the unapproved expenditure.
Bennett said he realizes it is “unrealistic” to go through every receipt received from the organizations with just the 11 finance committee members, but is relying on the University staffers who will process the requests to spot red flags.
Every expenditure approval form must pass through club advisors and the SA Vice President of Financial Affairs Nupur Moondra.
Student organizations will likely face hurdles as they learn to maneuver both the SA's new funding process and Bennett's new regulations, he said, but the committee plans to hold office hours before the Sept. 23 allocation deadline.
“Hopefully when all is said and done, no organization gets left in the dark,” Bennett said.
College Republicans Vice Chairman Christopher Oman said, by knowing their budget earlier in the year, his org hopes to book venues and speakers further in advance and spend more time “build[ing] up enough hype around the event to ensure a better turnout.”
SA President John Richardson said he is pleased with the SA’s new approach to funding.
“It sends the message to students that their SA fees are going to groups that have their act together,” Richardson said of the new Bennett guidelines.