Julia Pratt, senior nursing major and executive director of the Student Finance Board (SFB), wants to set the record straight about SFB.
“There’s a lot more that goes into (SFB) than what meets the eye,” Pratt said.
SFB is the student-run organization responsible for distributing the Student Activities Fee collected from every student at the College to organizations and clubs.
SFB also helps pay for the Loop Bus, intramural sports, photocopiers, Planned Parenthood and the Child Care Center with the money that is a part of its budget.
“People don’t realize that the SFB provides a lot of services,” Pratt said. She also mentioned that SFB is responsible for updating the equipment center and managing insurance policies for the equipment.
Pratt said that she feels “as though there have been misunderstandings about what’s been going on (in SFB).”
In particular, she referred to requests from club sports and for conferences.
“Club sports seem to be the red-headed stepchildren of the student organizations,” A.J. Richards, junior physics major and president of the men’s volleyball club, said.
The controversial conference policy this year has granted no more than $50 per person for each conference. Many student organizations, particularly club sports, have complained that this does not provide students with enough money to attend conferences.
Richards said that his organization asked for $4,500 for the national tournament but received only $500.
“While I was discouraged with SFB’s decision, I can understand their reluctance to give us money for the trip,” Richards said. Still, he added that it was “infuriating” to read about other organizations receiving funding “for some program I don’t care about.”
Pratt said that the reason for the conference policy is consistency, but she admitted that there is at least one exception to the policy.
The National Association of Campus Activities conference (NACA) received full funding this fall.
“(The NACA conference) is the only conference that actively brings something back to (the College),” Pratt said. She defended the conference, calling it “essential.” Because NACA is a program designed to teach students how to run programs on college campuses, Pratt feels that the benefits of attending the conference can reach every student, rather than just a few.
“I think we’ve stuck to the (conference) policy,” Steve Viola, sophomore business administration and finance major and Student Government Association (SGA) liaison to SFB, said.
Viola described decisions about conferences as difficult. He admitted that some conference requests could require more money than others, but he said that it was hard making that distinction.
Viola said that SFB “wants a policy where people can’t say there’s an unfair advantage (to any organization).”
Pratt was also concerned that many students are not familiar with SFB. She said that students may incorrectly believe that SFB does not want to give money to student organizations.
“I’ve heard in some cases that some people haven’t gotten the money they wanted,” Megan Jones, sophomore English major, said. “But I don’t know anything about (SFB).”
Viola said that he addressed the problem of student unfamiliarity with SFB in the beginning of the year. Last fall, he proposed a bill to make SFB’s voting records public. He said that he wanted to create a “sense of translucency” so that students would not think of SFB as a “mysterious group of students (who) are on a power trip.”
Pratt pointed out that the College’s finance board is unlike those she has seen at many other colleges.
She said that one of the main differences is that SFB is entirely student-run.
Viola added that SFB is rare in that it acts as a “check and balance” on SGA. In many other colleges, the student government handles finances.
Pratt said that without SFB, SGA may not be able to have, for example, a Sodexho liaison due to the volume of work for which the organization would be responsible.
Despite the difficulties of the job, Pratt said, “I love the SFB. The kids that are on my board are amazing.”
She is optimistic about the future of SFB and the College and said that SFB has planned as far ahead as 2010.
One of her goals is to attract more big-name musical artists, like Gavin DeGraw, who appeared at the College in November.
“I want to see a line wrapping around the student center,” she said. She hopes that SFB will be able to fund nationally recognized artists who could attract as many as 2,000 students for a concert.
Pratt pointed out that SFB meetings are open to the public and all students are welcome to attend. She also said any student can apply for an SFB position in the upcoming elections.
Interest sessions for those considering running are March 7 to 9, with elections on April 11 and 12.