The Student Association has voted to pitch in $10,000 to help GW buy an online system and go-to app for groups to track their finances, message members and request event space for the next three years.
The system, which costs $119,000, will likely be ready for student groups to use when they apply for a slice of the SA’s $900,000 funding pool next spring. Student leaders said at an SA senate meeting last week that it will help them keep a closer eye on how student groups spend their money, allowing the finance committee to approve certain line items and veto others.
OrgSync will put student group leaders have called tedious tasks, like requesting meeting space and checking events with the University calendar, in one place. The commitment comes after years of student lobbying for an updated system that lets finance committee members keep groups accountable for what they are allowed to spend.
“Let’s not be cheap. Let’s be honest with people. They need our help, so let’s give it to them,” finance committee chair Ben Pryde said.
Students will be able to send mass texts to members of their groups through the app and create web pages for organizations to advertise their events. It also streamlines budget processes by creating one site for administrators to sign off on purchases.
Pryde said past finance committees had used System Open Market Account, which was created in the 1990s and “no longer meets my needs.” Today, he said, they have used it as a high-functioning version of Excel.
“Right now, we’re using SOMA and Google Docs and it’s a mess. We need OrgSync because without it, we can’t move forward,” Pryde said.
Sen. Omeed Firouzi, U-At-Large, said OrgSync would have helped him during his time as the president of one of the University’s largest student groups, GW College Democrats. Firouzi said filling out expense and travel approval forms, as well as applications for additional funding, hindered programming.
“We know from experience that SOMA has worked from time to time and allowed us to, at the very least, operate,” he said. “OrgSync allows organizations to work even better and have everything they need in one place.”
Still, some senators questioned why the SA should give $10,000 to the University for a system that officials said they were committed to purchasing anyway. Sen. Casey Syron, CCAS-U, and Sen. Sean Kumnick, CCAS-U, were the only senators to vote against the bill.
“It’s like my parents are going to buy me a $20,000 car,” said Syron. “Why would I give my parents $5,000 when I know they’re going to buy me a free car?”
Anne Graham, an official from the Center for Student Engagement who presented at the meeting, said it was important for the SA to publicly support the purchase so all student groups prepare to use the system.
Syron said the money could be better spent on helping smaller student organizations that have budgets of a few hundred dollars. He pointed to Dance Marathon, a charity fundraiser that was sponsored by 45 student groups last spring, as a program that could benefit from extra SA money.
“Dance Marathon started with a budget of $1,000 and raised about $40,000,” Syron said. “Imagine what they could do with a couple of extra dollars?”
This article appeared in the September 2, 2014 issue of the Hatchet.