The Student Association Executive Board passed several changes to SA financial policy during its Wednesday April 22 meeting. Key changes include revisions to the stipend review process and SA business meeting attendance policy.
SA Director of Business Affairs senior William Fagan spearheaded these changes, working closely with the rest of the SA Executive Board as well as SA Director of Programs, Personnel and Finances Kate Rebban.
With regards to the policy revision process and how it prioritized transparency and student input, Fagan explained that, “We just tried to keep it as fair as possible.”
Two significant policy changes involve the stipend review process. Now, student stipends will be reviewed yearly each fall instead of bi-yearly.
“We feel that this gives more consistency to stipend review process,” Fagan said.
SA Vice President junior Paul Michael also sees the switch to a yearly cycle as beneficial.
“Making [stipend review] an annual thing makes it less harsh and means there’s more opportunity to rectify any mistakes in the organization or something the former presenter messed up on,” Michael said. “So there’s a lot of opportunity to fix any wrongs that the stipend review committee might find.”
Another change for stipends is the addition of a stipends appeals process. This process was modeled on the budget appeals process already in place.
“We wanted to make sure that [students] are given another chance to voice their opinions,” Fagan said. “We just feel that students will have a better experience with stipends if there is an appeals process.”
The policy for notifications for organizations whose SA representatives have missed one SA meeting has also changed. In the past, it was common practice for Rebban to send clubs with one absence a memo and an email as a courtesy warning, as attendance is mandatory and the budgets of organizations with two absences in a semester are automatically frozen. This practice was a courtesy, however, and not written into policy.
“Since Kate [Rebban] has been doing it, we figured we might as well put it in policy and hold ourselves more accountable,” Fagan said. Now, an email and a memo will be sent to each club within one business day of its representative’s absence.
As before, an email and a memo will also be sent to notify clubs with two absences that their budgets have been frozen. The Executive Board recommends that club treasurers check their mailboxes twice per week and that clubs always stay on top of their email accounts to avoid surprises.
The new financial policy also includes a rate increase for club transportation reimbursement. The reimbursement rate had been 22 cents per mile for the previous 10 years or so; now, it has been raised to 45 cents.
“We don’t have the resources to work at the state level, but … 45 cents seemed like a good medium for us,” Fagan said. “It’s going to help clubs a lot.” The New York State reimbursement rate is 57 cents.
The last major change to the 2015–2016 financial policy involves a non-funded drawing fund. This fund will allow clubs without budgets to ask for up to $100 twice per year.
For now, the non-funded drawing fund is experimental in nature with $600 in the budget. “It’s kind of like a pilot project … and the Executive Committee can always pump in more money,” Fagan said.
SA President senior Harrison Dole expressed optimism regarding the policy changes. “The changes are all to make financial policy more transparent … and more accessible to students,” Dole said. “All of the changes were made for the benefit of student clubs and organizations to do what they do and do it well without as many hiccups or obstacles in their way.”
Michael echoed Dole’s sentiment. “Billy [Fagan] did a really great job of changing the system based on the needs and issues he’s seen over the year,” he said.
According to the SA agenda, the first reading of the proposed changes took place at the weekly SA business meeting on April 15, in which an open discussion followed. Fagan said the SA Executive Board then met on Sunday April 19 to revise the proposed changes to reflect student opinions.
One originally proposed change was that the college must recognize clubs and organizations for at least one semester before requesting a budget. Students did not seem responsive to this idea, however, and so the change was scrapped from the policy, according to Fagan.
The Executive Board officially passed the revised changes on Wednesday April 22 at the second reading. As stated in the SA policy, these changes will go into effect on June 1.