Student Association President Kris Hart released a plan last week to ensure the appropriate management of funds and to prevent future financial discrepancies. Hart found several financial errors in the University’s books earlier this year.
The plan includes increased communication between the SA and Student and Academic Support Services, along with more training for SA officers.
“I had seen what the problems were and I knew what I wanted to make better, so we created the plan to fix past loopholes,” Hart said.
Hart began working on the plan six months ago as a part of his strategy toward SA financial reform.
SA President-elect Omar Woodard also proposed the creation of a second paid SA vice president for financial affairs who keeps all SA records and deals with student organization finances. He said he plans to create a referendum this fall, on which students would vote for or against the position.
The current vice president for financial affairs is paid $3,000, which comes out of money from the student fee – $1 per student per credit hour.
Earlier this semester, the University canceled an external audit of SA finances despite large errors in the financial records from last year, including the report of a $52,000 check to Hart and more than $10,000 allocated to the Residence Hall Association. No groups or people received the reported funding since it was only entered into a back-up system.
Under Hart’s plan, a bi-weekly report would be issued by SASS, which the SA would review. The SA would also be responsible for year-end deficit if University financial policies are not followed by the SA. SASS would be responsible for the budget deficit if University financial policies are not observed by the SA.
The University would also distribute a bi-weekly report to SA leaders detailing all expenditures and funds allocated to student organizations.
To ensure proper financial skills for SA leaders, GW’s Budget Office would also train the incoming SA president and executive vice president to view reports and inquire on account balances.
The plan outlines strict time requirements for financial management. For example, all transactions made by student organizations should be forwarded to SASS within two business days to keep the book on both sides up to date.
“The problem was that the SA numbers were different from SASS due to the lag time,” Woodard said.
The plan, which was presented to the Senate at its final meeting on Tuesday, is set to be enacted for next year’s financial records under Woodard.
“The (plan) is a great thing and a great first step in the financial reform process. I wish the audit happened, but this is a good step and I am happy with what Kris Hart left behind for me to do next year,” Woodard said.
Erica Fischer, SA vice president for financial affairs, said financial reform is needed if the SA is ever going to raise its fee. The student body voted down a referendum earlier this semester to double the SA fee to $2 per credit hour.
“If we are ever going to increase the SA fee, this is one of the only steps that has been taken to ensure SA fiscal responsibility,” Fischer said.
Fischer also said she hopes the referendum will create another vice president for financial affairs passes. She said the position would help create more oversight and allow someone else to sign off student organization’s financial expenditures.
“It’s a crazy job,” Fischer said. “When I have office hours, people line up outside my door to get things signed off.”