Student committee formally takes on funding management

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Finance Committee and Student Presidents’ Roundtable (SPR) no longer manage the allocation of Student Activities Fees (SAF) to the major student organizations and activities across campus. Instead, the newly-structured Allocations Committee (AC) bears the responsibility.

The AC was established last spring after a referendum was proposed and passed, which accelerated the creation of a new branch of executives who are responsible for allocating the SAF, reviewing Student Executive Council (SEC) budgets and distributing Reserve Funds. The committee’s first election took place during the Fall 2017 semester, and its first members were inaugurated this semester.

The committee manages funding for seven of the eight SEC organizations: the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the Class Officer Collective (COC), the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative (UDC), the University Media Board (UMB), the Interfraternity Congress (IFC), the Panhellenic Council (PHC) and the University Program Board (UPB). The Residence Hall Association (RHA) is funded separately through room and board payment.

Andrew Thompson, a member of the AC, provided insight as to what he thinks about the committee’s establishment.

“I’ve always been in support of [the AC] becoming a separate democratically-elected identity [from the USG Finance Committee and the SPR],” Thompson said, “and I think especially being separate from the SPR is great because, with the exception of the president of USG, not a single member of the SPR is elected by the student body.”

Approximately 85 percent of the SAF is distributed amongst the seven SPR members, while the remaining approximation of 15 percent is considered Reserve Funding. All groups or organizations that are not considered SECs but seek funding must propose budgets to the AC, which, if approved, are granted using money from the Reserve.

According to third-year Sydney Davis, the chair of the Allocations Committee, Reserve Funding is “dedicated to supporting unique events or campus traditions,” and is distributed every semester.

Presently, 14.23 percent of the SAF are Reserve Funds.

“The committee has finished the allocation and appeals process of the Reserve Fund,” Davis said, “and those finalized results will be released this week.”

Distributing the Reserve Funding is just one of the many initiatives the group has completed since their beginning at the start of this semester; the AC has also worked on drafting their organizational bylaws, and the finalized version can be accessed on the SEC website.

According to Davis, “These bylaws included a number of process improvements, including a requirement that each committee creates and approves a template to supplement their budget during the audit.”

This aspect of the bylaws is intended to help SEC organizations understand the process by which the AC funds activities and groups across campus. It is also to help them understand the AC’s expectations for budget proposals.

Because the committee assesses the SEC’s financial accounts through audits, it is important that the organizations understand the AC’s purpose and budget expectations. As of this semester, the committee has widened their audit to include various student events that received at least 1 percent of the SAF last semester. Spring 2018 audits will be performed from March 7 through the beginning of April.

In addition to budget auditing, the bylaws’ creation helped the AC committee members identify areas within the SEC Constitution which they feel could be improved.

“We look forward to making improvements to this governing document,” Davis said, “and believe they will benefit the funding processes and subsequently, student activities and programming as a whole at [Case Western Reserve University].”

Improvements in the financial process of the AC are precisely why the bylaws were drafted.

Davis said, “One of the other major initiatives this semester is improving [and] creating processes for the committee’s primary tasks.”

Members of the AC agree upon changing certain aspects of this constitution, and will present their suggestions to SPR on Mar. 8.

Even with the advent of the AC, the funding process for students organizations and events across campus may see further improvements in the future.

Maya Rao, the vice president of the Finance Committee, also serves as an advisor to the AC, since the former performed the duties which are now the responsibility of the AC.

“From the original SEC to the USG Finance Committee, and now, the AC, it is clear that this process needs and will continue to need refinement and institutional knowledge,” Rao said. “My role as advisor is to provide insight into past precedents and recommend the best funding practices from my purview as USG VP of Finance.”

With detailed processes and advancements such as those mentioned, over the years, Case Western Reserve University can expect the AC to become even more refined.