Student groups’ budget cut after buying Google Glass

Media Credit: Hatchet file photo by Sam Johnson | Hatchet Photographer

The Student Association finance committee slashed the MBA Association’s budget by about 22 percent this year after the organization used its funding last year to purchase Google Glass for its members.

The $1,500 cost for the high-tech wearable computer was not listed in the organization’s funding request last year, SA Finance Chair Ryan Counihan said. Though Counihan said that use of funds was allowed under the current system, the finance committee considered the purchase when deciding the organization’s budget this year.

“This is something they can spend money on, but wasn’t in their budget so it may be held against them,” Counihan said. “It’s more of the overarching theme that we have little control over people’s funds, people can spend money on things that weren’t in their budget with the SA at all, so there’s little oversight into how the money is spent.”

The organization will still receive $40,000, making it one of the five richest student groups next year, pending a full senate vote Wednesday. That compares to the $51,000 they received last year for the campus’ largest group for graduate business students. Multiple members of the group’s executive board did not return requests for comment.

Counihan said the finance committee will have greater oversight over groups’ spending next year after the University invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in a budget-tracking system, which will ensure that groups spend money based on their approved budgets.

The finance committee approves each group’s budgets for the upcoming year based on specific costs such as Fountain Fling, Lunar New Year or fees for athletic referees. But until this year, the committee has been unable to check how that amount was spent.

“Now there’s actually rules there and students can feel better about it being transparent, [with] both the allocations and expenditures,” Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller said.

The finance committee first started auditing groups’ budgets in 2011, after the SA Senate voted to overhaul its funding allocation process to give student groups greater discretion over their individual budgets.

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