SGA Fiscal Affairs Committee changes procedure for funding student organizations

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SGA Fiscal Affairs Committee changes procedure for funding student organizations

Vice President and Dean of Students Doug Pearson speaks at the first SGA meeting of the 2019-2020 year.

Vice President and Dean of Students Doug Pearson speaks at the first SGA meeting of the 2019-2020 year.

Katie Linkner

Vice President and Dean of Students Doug Pearson speaks at the first SGA meeting of the 2019-2020 year.

Katie Linkner

Katie Linkner

Vice President and Dean of Students Doug Pearson speaks at the first SGA meeting of the 2019-2020 year.

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Throughout the course of this semester, the Student Government Association has changed the way they allocate funds to different student organizations, with more discussions happening behind closed doors in Fiscal Affairs Committee meetings and in executive member meetings that occur every Wednesday night and are not open to student attendance. 

This change has led to quicker Senate meetings and much less public discussion about the funds given out to organizations. Little deliberation has occurred in recent meetings because of the process that Fiscal Affairs Chair Harrison Ivins has created to vet potential student organizations asking for money. 

Senior Senator Caroline Kittrell raised a question at the senate meeting on Oct. 14 about the repeated passing of large sums of money to the same group without so much as a discussion.

“I just feel like if we are giving one organization $2,000 in one night, we should have more information, or at least hear from the organization itself,” she said. 

Senator Kittrell’s comment was addressed immediately by Senator-at-Large and Fiscal Affairs Chair Harrison Ivins, who said that “each group goes through intense vetting before it is brought to the senate floor.” 

While the initial job of the Fiscal Affairs Committee is to help organizations apply for funding requests, and then to vet these funding requests, it becomes the senators’ job to decide on whether or not the funding requests are a valuable use of their limited funds once it reaches the Senate floor. So while the vetting process has become more intense for the fiscal affairs committee, this does not change the job of the class senators.

President Adam Penland brought up this point in the senate meeting on Oct. 14, urging senators to voice their concerns.

“It is important that we discuss legislation before passing it, so if you have questions or concerns, do not be afraid to talk,” he said.

The concern of Fiscal Affairs’ overreach in parliamentary proceedings was also addressed in SGA’s meeting Nov. 4 when new legislation was brought to the table to ensure that representatives of organizations that ask for money are actually there to discuss and receive it on the day that their organization reaches the senate floor.

Penland said that he was in adamant support of this amendment to the constitution.

“I think this bill is vitally important, and Harrison and his team work really hard to make our jobs as senators easier, and they have done a really good job,” he said. “But it is also the Senators’ jobs to vet and decide where our funds go and this will help with that. It will provide a more open discussion and understanding of what clubs will do with their money.” 

Sophomore Senator Savannah Lackey said she shares similar feelings to Penland. 

“It is important for organizations to be at Senate when being approved for funding, especially when it is such large sums of money, because it opens the door for us senators to discuss what the funds are being used for and ensure we are allocating funds that will benefit our student body in the best way possible,” she said.

Ivans’ constitutional amendment was brought to the floor on Nov. 12 at the SGA meeting and was passed with 100% support, meaning that students now must be present to explain their funding requests before they can be passed on the senate floor.

SGA meets on Monday nights at 6 p.m. in CSC 2.

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