SGFC considers changes to funding practices

By Robert Katz

Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) is mulling over a number of guideline changes to their funding of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). The funding changes come on the heels of a controversy in which the committee ran out of money earlier than any year in recent memory.

Ben Mainzer, the chair of the committee, said that he felt the changes were necessary. “The reasons we ran out of money were long-term changes in funding patterns, not short term,” Mainzer said. “The new guidelines will help us with that.”

The guideline change—most explicitly designed to prevent SGFC from consuming itself—was one that decreed a cap of 40 percent of the yearly allocation in each of fall and winter quarters. Money will be deducted from the budget for each quarter based on the date of the event rather than the date of funding approval.

Mainzer said that this year’s funding during winter quarter would have exceeded the limit imposed by the proposed legislation had the guideline been in place this year.

In response to the surging amount of requests that bankrupted its budget, the committee is increasing the number of audits. To do that, they appointed an ad-hoc sub-committee of SGFC, constituting people outside the Student Assembly, to handle the audits. Mainzer said that this “was to give SGFC more time to do the things it needed to do.” In the past, audits were allocated to individual members of SGFC.

Other changes were made to the guidelines in reference to fundraising, donations, decorations, and other details.

Now, any money advanced for the purpose of fundraising must be returned to SGFC after the event. Mainzer said that not requiring the reimbursement of SGFC would be giving the money out “with no strings attached.”

Another proposed change is requiring that “when a RSO submits a budget, and said budget, if approved, would cause the RSO’s yearly allocation to exceed $7,500, the RSO would be required to fundraise an amount not less than 15 percent of the budget.”

If the amount received were over $15,000, the RSO would be required to contribute 30 percent of any subsequent budget application.

The proposed guideline changes also decree that donations will not be collected through a mandatory fee, at or or close to the door of the event, in the style of a ticket booth. The point, said Mainzer, is to prevent the semblance of donation by coercion.

Also, the proposal demands that any donation the RSO makes is clearly enumerated. The proposal indicates that SGFC will fund for decorations when the amount requested does not exceed five percent of the total event cost and when the scale is deemed reasonable.

The proposal would also require printed price quotes for all transportation expenses, establish an official secretary for the purpose of taking notes at meetings, and add “performance programs” to the list of items that SGFC will “generally not fund.”

Mainzer stressed that the proposals were very preliminary and that he invites comment. They are so preliminary that SGFC member Erin Horne, a member of the Graduate Council from the Harris School of Public Policy, said that “the revisions to the guidelines are still under review and I do not feel discussing potential changes would be prudent under these circumstances.”