Finance Board pulls ledger from public oversight amid public criticism

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Tue Apr 09, 2019

This article is part of a series of articles examining Finance Board, its allocations of the Student Activities Fund (SAF), and its oversight.

 

Amid speculation about the activities of Finance Board from members of Student Government Association (SGA) up to and including its president, Finance Board elected to remove its ledger from its portion of the SGA website. At the time of its removal, the ledger contained all allocations of the SAF to student organizations from the Finance Board hearings in April 2018, September 2018, October 2018, November 2018, and February 2019.

The removal took place in late March. According to Jorge Morin, the Finance Board chair, it was due to a complaint from a student organization who didn’t feel comfortable with their allocations being public. Morin did not disclose the student organization’s name and the student organization in question was not available for comment.

The ledger was made public for the first time in December 2018. Morin told TechNews that he “wants transparency,” though is wary since, also according to him, “there’s a level of transparency that’s bad, too.”

The ledger itself, taking the form of a Google Sheet, contained information regarding student organization’s allocations of the SAF. For each proposal submitted by a student organization during a Finance Board hearing, the ledger contains the categorization of the proposal, the title of the proposal, the requested amount, adjusted amount, deposit amount, and any notes Finance Board had about the proposal.

Most of these comments were explanations about the difference between the requested amount and the amount deposited into the student organization’s account or comments that a budget passed in full. Examples of this include “cut budget to zero for lack of supporting documents” and “the cost for T-shirts is cut the shirts to zero due to too high cost.”

The distribution present in the Finance Board ledger is very unequal, with a single student organization (Union Board) being given roughly 30 percent of the SAF and six student organizations (Union Board, Hyperloop, Greek Council, Society of Automotive Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Indian Student Association) controlling over half of the SAF.

Though these numbers are unequal, some organizations require more money, such as those that rely heavily on programming or very technical projects.

This all occurs within the context of ongoing conversations regarding the oversight of Finance Board on the pages of this newspaper.

Eric Scott, President of SGA, opined, “I am of the opinion that Finance Board needs to change.” Scott is not afraid of using force to impose his will regarding Finance Board, saying that he views himself as Finance Board’s “boss” and that he could “force the issue.”

Scott additionally stated that he wanted to approach the issue democratically, hence the discussion present in the SGA senate meetings through February and March 2019.

Morin claims, though, that the ongoing debate about the purpose of the SAF “hurts Finance Board because we work so hard to ensure the success of student orgs on campus.”

In response to the ongoing discussions surrounding Finance Board, Chloe Rubinowicz, a Finance Board advisor, said that “student government is focusing on the wrong things,” later adding that the organization shouldn’t focus so much on “internal issues."

The debate regarding the SAF and Finance Board is ongoing. The SGA Senate hearing on April 10 will likely feature more information regarding Finance Board.

 

 

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2019 - Spring - Issue 10
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