SFC Responds to Survey Feedback

Student Finance Committee

Several weeks ago, the Student Finance Committee emailed a survey to the student body to gauge opinions on several issues relevant to our work. We appreciate the time you took to provide us with constructive feedback. We would like to publicly share the results of our survey and take the opportunity to respond to the primary topics of interest for the student body. In allocating money to organizations and individuals, we focus primarily on what a given request would bring back to student life on campus. We seek thoughtfully articulated budgets that demonstrate the ability to effectively execute their goals. With an active student body and a limited pool of resources, these allocation decisions often include difficult trade-offs and invite disagreement. Because of the inherently controversial nature of our work, we try our best to maximize our transparency. All allocations are publicly available on our website, our meetings are open to the public, each committee member holds weekly office hours, and we encourage anyone to schedule personal meetings to discuss a budget or voice any concern. The SFC ad hoc fund, designed to handle unforeseen costs, is poorly suited for dealing with requests for large, long-term purchases. Therefore, the SFC has drafted a policy to annually save a small percentage (3-5 percent) of the Student Activity Fund for large-scale student organization investment needs, such as computers for student publications, a new transmitter for WOBC, solar panels for the roof of Kahn, or any other student proposed project. On the SFC survey, 81 percent of students voted in favor of such a fund. In light of this, we are working with the administration and Board of Trustees to implement the Capital Investment Fund. We received responses from many students confused about the $8 refundable fee that finances the Oberlin Public Interest Research Group. OPIRG is a statewide organization whose sole funding is approximately $50,000 a year raised from an $8 fee charged each semester to every Oberlin student. The fee is refundable by a negative check system, meaning that to avoid being charged $8, a student must be aware that the fee is being charged to their tuition and submit a request at the beginning of the semester. By the Student Financial Charter, OPIRG is mandated to deliver a waiver form for the charge to each student’s OCMR by the end of the first month of each semester. This semester, OPIRG did not deliver such a form. We have spoken with the Student Accounts office in Carnegie and extended the deadline to request refunds for the rest of the semester. If you want a $8 refund for the OPIRG fee, you can go to Student Accounts Monday through Friday from 9–11 a.m. and 1:30–3:30 p.m. Students were generally in favor of transferring student-controlled funds to local credit unions. By holding the Student Activity Fund at the Ohio Educational Credit Union instead of nationally based banks, Oberlin would both foster economic growth and deepen its ties with the local community. Credit unions may pose greater risks, though. Given the student body support demonstrated in our survey, we are working with the administration to examine the plausibility of this initiative. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the Fall 2012 Survey or the student financial system in general, please e-mail us at [email protected] or stop by during our office hours listed below. We are also excited to announce that we’ll be holding an open forum, Cocoa with the Committee, in Azariah’s on Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. You bring the questions, we’ll bring the hot cocoa! Weekly SFC office hours in Wilder 316 are: Monday 11 a.m.–noon; Tuesday 2 p.m.–4 p.m.; Wednesday 11 a.m.–noon, 1 p.m.–2 p.m.; Thursday 2 p.m.–4 p.m.