Senate, OST Delay Appointing SFC Chairs

Student Senate and the Office of the Student Treasurer will delay the Student Finance Committee member appointments until this fall rather than completing them before the end of the semester — an action that’s part of Senate and the OST’s recent plan to restructure the student finance system to become more transparent, flexible, and efficient in allocating funds.

Senate and the OST’s pivot to restructure campus student financing came about after they evaluated how student activity funding is allocated. Out of a pool of about $1.2 million in the allocated funds to student organizations, $600,000 remained unspent as of April 24, said Senate Chair and College junior Kameron Dunbar. With the ad hoc pool emptying two weeks earlier than usual in March, preventing students from accessing funding, Dunbar said that Senate and the OST will work over the summer to pinpoint a new financing strategy before appointing SFC members to manage it.

“I want SFC to think of a system that not only lets students tap into literally our last student dollar, but also one that allows SFC to be more critical of events and programming rather than budgets,” Dunbar said.

The restructuring will also aim to allow SFC members to work more closely with student organizations so that they can maximize their funding and spending. Senate found that only about 36 percent of students knew what SFC did in its campus climate survey last fall, which led senators to consider how they could redefine the committee’s engagement with students.

“We want an SFC that’s responsive and that’s going to work with all student organizations critically and effectively and is going to be able to shepherd them through how to put on great programming, how to put on great events — be it speakers, banquets, film screenings, convocations, etc.,” said Student Senator and College senior Léon Pescador.

Dunbar said that Senate envisions the new student finance system providing for students beyond funding organizations, such as financing shuttle buses to Cleveland or infrastructural improvements to student spaces.

“I think there are lots of things that students have expressed a desire [for], particularly with various campus improvements, for various spaces for student use, and more all-campus events,” he said.

Student Treasurer and College junior Elijah Aladin added that OST and Senate’s vision will hopefully allow for students to control how they want to change the campus, rather than depending on the administration to make direct decisions.

“I think that we should take on some of that burden, especially when it comes to real things like retention, like people feeling isolated, building community — why we have so many student programs,” Aladin said.

Aladin said that he would also like to see the hiring process for incoming SFC members improve. The application window is typically a week long at the end of the spring semester, and Aladin said that the current interview period involves senators, treasurers or assistant treasurers, and outgoing SFC members coming in and out of sessions. Not only does Senate and the OST hope to extend the application window and advertise the position more at the beginning of next semester, but Aladin also says that the pattern of questioning during the interviews is set, not allowing the flexibility that he believes is necessary to test each candidate.

“You’re just going around in a circle,” Aladin said of the interview process. “It’s ineffective with that many people, so it’s really an ineffective way to get to know a person’s skills that they claim to have on their resumé or that they talk about in the cover letter, or in the way they answer questions in their application.”

Regarding revamping the interview process, Pescador said that the new process will hopefully allow Senate to find committed, proactive final candidates.

“I feel like we really should have a constructive, positive relationship with student organizations, and I think that changing the interview process to field candidates will make sure that they’re going to be active, they’re going to be engaged, and they’re going to be passionate about the work,” Pescador said. “It’s going to yield a new Student Finance Committee that’s really going to change the face of student programming.”

Dunbar said that the new SFC members will hopefully be selected by the second or third weeks of the fall semester, potentially with more first-year appointments than usual. He added that there will be six or seven new SFC members this fall, and that until they are chosen, Senate will oversee ad hoc processes. The only responsibilities the SFC has until the fall are to email finalized budgets to student organizations, so both Dunbar and Pescador said they do not think the delays will complicate student access to funds.

As Senate and the OST hammer out their plan to improve student financing strategies this summer, Dunbar also said that the SFC-Senate co-chair will be imperative next year in translating Senate’s vision to the SFC.