The Student Finance Board (SFB) has taken a considerable amount of attacks in previous weeks. I offer this letter to the students which SFB serves to explain our practices, policies and procedures as well as to address certain situations.
SFB consists of six executive board members selected by the previous year’s board, nine general board members, elected by the students with the exception of the freshmen representatives and two representatives from the Student Government Association. All of these members have a vote at general board meetings with the exception of the executive director and the assistant financial director. It is at these weekly meetings which the board allocates the general appropriations line.
An organization wishing to submit a special appropriations request must first meet with its SFB liaison to go over the event and the expenses of the request. After its SFB liaison has signed off on the request, the request is submitted to be heard at the weekly general board meeting. However, before the request is placed on the general board agenda, the executive board discusses the request to make sure that it follows our policies and procedures as outlined in our manual. The executive board does not determine whether or not a special appropriations request merits funding. After it has been determined that the request meets all of the policies of SFB it is put on the agenda for the next general board meeting.
When a request is presented to the board, there are a few key things which are looked at. The board will, at the very least, consider the cost per student expected to attend, the date, time and location of the event, what is included in the expenses, what publicity is being requested, the contribution from the organization to the event and whether or not the event is open to the entire campus community. If an event fails to meet the standards the board has set, then it will most likely not pass.
When an organization submits a conference request, the executive board will first determine whether the conference is a mandatory conference or a leadership/programming conference which helps organizations to program on-campus events and bring something back to the students. If the requested conference does not fall into either one of these two categories, then it does not meet our policies as outlined in our manual and the executive board has the responsibility to deny it. Conferences which are academic or professional in nature are certainly of value, but more so to the academic side of campus than from a student activities standpoint. If a conference does follow our policies, then the board will vote on the request and is allowed to send no more than five people, at $50 per person, which comes out to $250.
With regards to the Model UN conference requested by the International Studies Club, the executive board voted unanimously to deny this request because it did not follow our policies for conferences, as outlined above. The International Studies Club requested $1,244 for Model UN. Even if this conference fell within the guidelines of our conference policy, similar to last year, they would have received no more than $250 and should have been prepared to raise the additional funds. However, it should have come as no surprise that the request would be denied; I advised the president of the International Studies Club on the day of the activities fair that this conference no longer meets our conference policy. The president indicated that they would try anyway and so they did. Because this request was time sensitive, the executive board did the International Studies Club a favor by reviewing it while its budget was frozen. According to our policies, a club which has been frozen will not have its requests heard until it has rectified its budget situation.
In response to allegations that SFB has pull over what The Signal publishes, this is untrue. Anyone who has read The Signal for the past month knows very well that SFB has no say over what it publishes. The Signal is a business, and publication of the paper is funded entirely by non-SAF ad revenue. SFB funds The Signal’s telephone, office supplies, salaries for the editor-in-chief and managing editor and its various press fees. It would be unethical for SFB to attempt to exert pull over what The Signal publishes and anyone who alleges otherwise is guilty of perpetuating blatant falsehoods.
SFB has also received numerous questions regarding the amount of frozen clubs posted in our office. If an organization is found to be in violation of our policies, they will immediately be frozen. Current examples include organizations which have not submitted an organization response form, had failed to register three people for Passport to Programing or have over-spent their budgets. SFB cannot simply freeze a budget in retaliation to what an organization writes to The Signal; considering writing to The Signal is not in violation of our policies. By now all frozen clubs should be aware of this, either by having checked the list or by being informed by your SFB liaison at the mandatory liaison/treasurer meetings. Liaisons are able to explain what needs to be done in order for an organization to be removed from the Frozen Clubs list.
It is my sincere hope that I have been able to clear up any confusion surrounding SFB and how it operates. Considering all students pay the Student Activity Fee, SFB tries to allocate the fee in a manner which benefits the largest number of students. I hope that students understand that we are dealing with a limited amount of funds and cannot afford to fully fund every request that is put in front of us. SFB is forced to make tough decisions, and I can assure you it brings no pleasure to SFB to “crush an organization’s dreams,” especially when it is clear how hard some organizations work at preparing their requests, such as Asian American Association’s Russell Peters request (which was granted on an appeal after a $10,000 price reduction).
With every decision SFB makes it keeps in mind that this is student money and allocates the SAF accordingly. There will always be students who have problems with the way SFB conducts business; to be honest, if there weren’t any, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs. I am confident that all complaints that policies are not applied fairly will prove to be baseless and are rather complaints that we don’t have enough money to do all the things students desire. I too share your grievances of the financial limitations placed on SFB by the SAF and I urge you to request that the Board of Trustees approve significant increases, which would allow SFB to finance more activities.
No organization is perfect, SFB included, but we feel that legitimate concerns should be brought up in a respectful manner and in the appropriate venue, free of personal attacks against the very people who can affect change.