SAC Chair indicates continued resistance to remaining GUSA advisory board reforms
At the start of the new club funding process, the Student Activities Commission requested $35,000 from the Georgetown University Student Association, the new guardians of our Student Activities Fee, only to be scoffed at: in the draft budget it proposed just before Spring Break, the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriations Committee suggested that SAC get a total allocation of a mere $12,500.
The FinApp Committee meant this miserly counter-‘offer’ as a rebuke of SAC for having refused to adopt some of GUSA’s six reforms for advisory boards—”in recognition that the Commission is in good standing with some, but not all, of the reform proposals,” in the words of the FinApp committee. But if the committee hoped its penny-pinching would coerce SAC into adopting the remaining reforms, for the moment, they’re going to be disappointed. In an e-mail to SAC club leaders sent today, SAC Chair Ethel Amponsah (NHS ’11) tells clubs to brace themselves for the limitations the meager GUSA allocation will place on SAC allocation, even as it dips into its reserves.
“I would like to note that SAC has complied with 4 out of the 6 recommendations in an effort to compromise with the Committee,” she wrote. “The draft budget reduces SAC’s allocation budget by about 15%. Please consider how this will effect your organizational budget as this reduction will be felt across all SAC groups …. FinApp would like to mandate that SAC use the excess funds for its allocation budget. However, that is not sustainable as within two years the excess funds would be depleted and SAC would still receive insufficient funds from FinApp.”
SAC’s reserves, she said, are currently at $215,000, and the Office of Student Affairs has suggested that it should maintain reserves of at least $150,000.
In response to Amponsah’s claims, Chair of the FinApp Committee Nick Troiano (COL ’11) said that SAC had only made good faith efforts towards completing three of the six reforms GUSA would like it to make. They are still not disclosing how their individual members vote on allocations, he said, they do not yet have a plan to spend down their reserves, and they do not have a method for picking their leadership that is accountable to the student body.
Read more, plus Amponsah’s full message after the jump, and a statement from members of the FinApp Committee after the jump.
“The real issue is that SAC groups should not be affected by our decreased allocation,” he said. “The excessive reserves SAC has kept is a result of their hoarding student activity fee money–it is wrong for them now to turn around and go on a spending spree and, at the same time, decrease the amount they allocate to groups.”
Troiano said that if they spend a combination of money from their reserves and money allocated from GUSA on their clubs, they can sustain themselves for at least four or five more years. Before their reserves hit the recommended level, GUSA should be able to increase the Student Activities Fee allocations to the advisory boards. But that doesn’t address the issue of the reforms.
“Speaking for myself, I will not support more than the draft allocation if they don’t make a good faith effort on the remaining three reforms,” Troiano said.
Amponsah’s e-mail to SAC clubs:
Hello student organization leaders,
I hope you had a relaxing Spring Break. Please review the following important information:
Decreased Allocation Budget
After the Finance and Appropriations Committee’s (FinApp) Budget Summit on 2/28, SAC has learned that the draft budget allocates $12,500 to SAC, less than half of what was requested. For the past two years, SAC has received $35,000 (08-09) and $25,000 (07-08) from the Student Activities Fee for its allocation budget. The marked decrease in funds will undoubtedly limit what SAC is able to fund. I am told that the decrease in funds is a result of SAC’s stance on FinApp’s 6 recommendations for advisory boards. I would like to note that SAC has complied with 4 out of the 6 recommendations in an effort to compromise with the Committee.
The draft budget reduces SAC’s allocation budget by about 15%. Please consider how this will effect your organizational budget as this reduction will be felt across all SAC groups. Additionally, we have just learned that securing a DPS officer next year will now cost nearly double this academic year’s price. With these factors along with rising space costs, new organizations, and a desire for more elaborate programming, the Commission will have to decrease allocations. We are considering a decrease in Standard Operating Budgets and are reviewing all allocations made. We value your input in this process and have created a survey about how your organization uses its Standard Operating Budget. We will also send out a general survey about your overall experience with SAC in the coming weeks.
Lastly, SAC has learned from the Office of Student Affairs that it should maintain its reserve funds at $150,000. Currently, the Commission has $215,000 in its reserve as per the former recommendation from Financial Affairs. FinApp would like to mandate that SAC use the excess funds for its allocation budget. However, that is not sustainable as within two years the excess funds would be depleted and SAC would still receive insufficient funds from FinApp. Instead, the Commission would like to use the funds to address some of your expressed concerns and needs such as space renovations and increased storage. Within our upcoming general survey, there will be an opportunity to express your opinions about how the funds should be used. I also encourage you to speak with your Commissioners, or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.
As always, thank you for your understanding.
All the best,
The FinApp Committee’s statement about SAC:
The GUSA Finance & Appropriations (FinApp) Committee draft Student Activities Fee Budget proposes allocating $12,500 to the Student Activities Commission (SAC), which is less than its request for $37,500. SAC’s allocation will be substantially increased once the Commission agrees to adhere to the 6-point funding reform plan.
Currently, SAC adequately complies with only three points of the plan. SAC maintains an appeals process for clubs denied funding, allows clubs reasonable control over funds they raise, and has begun a pilot program aimed at expanding the annual budgets of its organizations.
Unfortunately, SAC remains noncompliant with the three other points of the plan. First, SAC does not hold fully open meetings where the individual votes of commissioners are public. Second, SAC’s commissioners are neither elected nor accountable to the organizations they represent. Instead, SAC’s commissioners follow a secret application process that allows for the continued reappointment of its members. Third, SAC, like other advisory boards, has reserves far greater than recommended by the Vice President’s Office, however SAC does not have a plan to reduce its excess reserves. SAC’s current reserve is $215,000 while it should only be $150,000. That means SAC is holding $65,000 that could be allocated to clubs in need of support.
The GUSA FinApp Committee will allocate more student money to SAC once it agrees to open meetings where commissioner’s votes are made public, agrees to an election or confirmation process for its commissioners, and determines a realistic plan to reduce its reserves. SAC’s funding is contingent on these three simple and reasonable reforms with which every other advisory board is working to comply.
It is false that any decreased Student Activities Fee allocation to SAC for FY10 will limit funds for clubs. SAC is requesting $37,500 for FY10, however it currently holds $65,000 in excessive reserve money. Any decreased allocation to SAC can be recovered by its substantial reserves. There is no reason why any club should receive less funding when SAC holds thousands of excess dollars in reserve. In addition, all SAC clubs have access to the GUSA Fund where they will find support.
Student Activities Fee money is limited and should be spent responsibly by advisory boards that operate in a transparent, accountable, and efficient manner. SAC should be applauded for the effort they’ve shown on their budget pilot program and I’m very hopeful that SAC can show the same warmth for our other desired reforms. The GUSA Finance & Appropriations Committee looks forward to working with SAC this week in resolving this matter so that clubs can have the funding they need for the coming school year.