SFC Strives to Increase Efficiency Through Council System

Over the course of this semester, SFC has been reviewing its policies to identify inefficiencies and improve the efficacy of its allocations. The following piece lays out the structure for a new council system that SFC is adopting. The original policy’s language has been edited by the Review for length and clarity.

The Student Finance Committee is undergoing a policy review to restructure funding channels for the services and activities sponsored by the Student Activity Fund. In coordination with Student Senate and the Office of the Student Treasurer, SFC must evaluate the efficacy of core allocation processes. While this is an ongoing evaluation subject to feedback, the committee has identified major inefficiencies in the spring budgeting process and, as such, has begun to rely on ad hoc funds to sponsor fluctuating and nonconstant programming throughout the year. In this transitory year, the committee has adopted a hybrid system in which many groups received some funding in the 2019 fiscal year spring budgeting process but received less funding than they were allocated in previous fiscal years.

The issue with this reallocation was that it was largely arbitrary, as it required SFC, with its limited knowledge, to assess the importance of one event, service, or mission versus another. This new Council system addresses allocation inefficiencies as well as student development goals that the Committee has identified in the SFC Policy review. The policy recommendations aim to aggregate expenses to address the issues of repetitive and extraneous spending within student organizations. The Committee also recognizes that students’ assumption of personal responsibility for SAF money is unfair without adequate preparation and consistent guidance throughout the allocation processes. This system hopes to alleviate some responsibility from students while cultivating their financial literacy by restructuring the allocation system to facilitate more engagement of the student body by the Committee. Such engagement will also allow the Committee to participate in student leadership development, as well as cultivate networks of student leaders and resources that will eventually translate to alumni leaders and resources. The Councils will allow a platform for student organizations to collaborate on events that represent an intersection between clubs with similar missions.

Each Council should consist of a member of SFC serving as chair of that committee and one voting member to represent each student organization. While only one member from each organization will be allowed to vote, any number of members may attend Council meetings and actively participate in event discussion and planning. Each Council will be chaired by a member of SFC, who will facilitate the appointment of a Council operations manager and Council coordinator.

Council members should be an officer of the student organization — ideally, the student union liaison, chair, or treasurer of represented student organizations — elected by an internal process. Votes will be collected anonymously through a mechanism developed by the SFC. This voting system will allow for organization members to give feedback on how their ideas are being incorporated or represented by the elected Council members, past and present. Thus, this voting system will give an indication of membership and divided ideologies within the club as well as promote equitable representation within club structures.

Rather than allocating for the upcoming fiscal year in the spring, this system will allocate on a rolling basis that corresponds with and accommodates event planning. Council members should be elected and established by the first week of April. This deadline will allow sufficient time for councils to assemble plans, communicate those plans, and receive feedback from the Student Finance Committee for events planned for Commencement, summer months, and early fall. Furthermore, this timeline will correspond with many similar deadlines for student organizations, such as new officer elections and submission of the new officer list to the Student Union. Following their appointment, Councils will convene at least once monthly during the first week of the month — the necessity of additional meetings are up to the discretion of the council. During this meeting, the council will, to their best ability, detail plans for events up to three months away.

The SFC will deliberate over the next two weeks on the final allocations for each of the councils. The Committee will assess the events against the priorities and goals established by the Student Governance Council. The Student Governance Council will consider timelines, demand for programming across semesters, historical spending, institutional initiatives, and student feedback when prioritizing goals for student government. The Committee should also consider competition for audience, participation, and spacing between events scheduled by different councils when making allocation decisions. SFC will review the event proposals as well as any ad hoc proposals that were not heard at the initial Council meetings. Once SFC makes allocation decisions, the Committee will return a master list of Council and ad hoc proposals and the associated funding allocated to each of the Councils and student organizations within those Councils. The Committee will also assign ad hoc proposals to student organizations with missions that align with the mission of the ad hoc. Both Councils and student organizations will have the opportunity to appeal the Committee’s assignment of ad hoc proposals and scheduling on the event master list. If the Committee cannot place an ad hoc with a specific Council or student organization, the Committee will be responsible for facilitating the programming proposed via ad hoc, contingent on the proposal’s approval.

The committee will consider the appeals and/or student organization plans to incorporate ad hocs to their proposed programming and make a final allocation. Finally, SFC will create and disseminate a master calendar of events. To ensure survey respondents are representative of the event attendees, groups will be required to ticket for events and collect emails via a mechanism developed by SFC for individuals who receive tickets. This form will be disseminated and responses collected monthly to groups organizing SFC-sponsored programming. The survey responses and group cooperation in the survey process will be considered in future allocation decisions.

The ad hoc form should be disseminated monthly to the student body, and will be available on the SFC website with brief instructions and insights into the ad hoc process. The Council system will also encourage individual ad hoc proposals to collaborate with student organizations that are already chartered. This is consistent with organization’s community-building goals because it also points students to the groups sponsoring events that they want to see on campus.