To the editor:
For the past three years as a (non-Greek) Case student, I have entrusted my hundred-plus dollar Student Activity Fee (SAF) to the Student Executive Committee (SEC). Like many other students, I have hoped that they would judiciously divide and supervise the funds among the “big five” umbrella organizations, which purport to benefit the entire student body and provide a rich campus experience.
However, I feel that my trust has been misplaced.
I’d like to focus on one issue, and that is the poor management practices of the SEC, which I believe has direct implications for the Greek funding issue at hand. The SEC constitution outlines budgetary procedures to ensure that SAF dollars are spent with good intention and are well documented. After reviewing the governing documents and their past actions, I believe that the SEC has failed to operate with financial responsibility.
Budgetary submission and review, an important part of the SEC allocation process, has not been occurring in a timely or reliable fashion as per the constitution. Last spring’s budgetary debacle highlighted this lapse. According to one SEC member, “it was hard to get budgets from some people.” However, how can we entrust an organization with over half a million student dollars per semester if they cannot track how this money is being spent? Such excuses make me feel rather uneasy about trusting them with such a responsibility, especially when their constitution also promises to publish the budgets for students to access. As to the Greek funding issue, how can any organization attempt to cut the budgetary allocation of another without having its own paperwork in order? I am of the opinion that, as the constitution states, no SEC member organization should be funded without an accurate, specific, and well-intentioned budget.
In addition to the dysfunctional allocation process, the SEC has also failed to follow proper auditing procedures as outlined in their Grant of Power. According to the Grant of Power, an independent accredited audit must be taken of each organization’s books once per year and subsequently reported to the SEC and the Dean of Student Affairs. If such an annual audit were actually performed it could have prevented a myriad of issues including missing budgets, enormous rollovers fund, and unaccounted budgetary deficits.
Finally, the voting process for last year’s Greek funding reallocation did not follow the SEC’s own constitutional timeline. The constitution states that any revisions in the SAF allocation must be approved by the 5th meeting of the semester by a 3/5 majority vote. As of the fifth meeting of last semester (see Mar. 18 minutes), the proposal for cutting Greek Funding was still being drafted and debated. A vote should not have been held after this fifth meeting to modify the allocation – the issue should have been tabled for a semester and more time allowed for a thorough discussion.
In short, I think that this year’s SEC leadership should have a pretty full agenda without trying to tackle the Greek funding issue, chief among them competence, accountability and transparency. I do not think that the SEC organization is in a position to single out member organizations for reallocation when they cannot seem to abide by their own regulations in the first place. As was stated several times in last week’s Observer, this would be a great time for SEC to bring member organizations – and the campus community – together instead of driving them apart.
I hope that you keep that in mind as well during your vote on the referendum next week, and choose to return the SAF allocations to their previous levels until further review merits an honest change.