Finance Board, campus groups reining in spending

By Dalton Karwacki

Two years after running out of funds for special requests for campus groups before the end of the year, the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Finance Board has made huge improvements in the way the money is distributed, according to SGA President Brian Guzman.

Finance Board is the branch of SGA responsible for approving budgets to SGA and other clubs on campus. It also distributes money to clubs from the spontaneous fund, which helps pay for events, trips and conventions that their budgets cannot cover. All of these funds come from the $125 per semester Student Activity Fee that all undergraduate students pay. Seventy-eight percent of Finance Board’s roughly $1 million budget goes to club budgets while the rest is put into the spontaneous fund. That fund was nearly depleted two years ago. Since then, Finance Board has been increasingly deliberate in distributing money.

“Finance Board this year is absolutely an incredibly strong group, the strongest I’ve seen since I’ve been at Rider,” said Guzman. “I stand by basically all of the decisions they’ve made as far as who gets money and how much they get.”

This year, Finance Board has heard 58 proposals from various campus organizations to receive money from the spontaneous fund, 53 of which were approved by the board. In all, the board has been asked for almost $178,000 as of February 23. It has approved about 74 percent of the amount requested, just under $132,000, leaving a little over $52,000 left for the rest of the year.

Last year, clubs asked for a combined total of nearly $258,000 in spontaneous funds. Finance Board gave out almost 58 percent of the requested funds, a total of almost $164,000. This came from 71 approvals on 81 requests. The Finance Board finished the year with just over $1,000 left over.

According to SGA Treasurer Mike Zilly, Finance Board can distribute less money than a club asks for.

“When clubs receive less than the request, it can be because of a number of reasons,” Zilly said. “They could have asked for too much money for food, or the board is only willing to send a certain portion of their people on the conference requesting money, or even because they want too much money for fliers. It really depends on the proposal.”

Dave Keenan, director of Campus Life and adviser to SGA and Finance Board, said that campus organizations have also played a large role in the more careful spending of spontaneous funds.

“A big part of the reason for that is that the clubs have become more reliant on their budgeted funds than they have in the past,” he said. “They don’t need to rely on the spontaneous fund as much.”

Some of the Finance Board’s $1 million budget is used for other projects, according to Zilly.

“The money has also gone toward special projects like the turf field and toward the pub losses that are incurred each year,” Zilly said. “For the most part, the money goes toward entertainment purposes such as the concerts and comedians. Also, the money goes toward other academic, multicultural, community service type ventures.”

Many of the largest spontaneous fund allocations granted this year are to send groups to conferences — a total of almost $44,500. That is considerably less than the requested amount of nearly $76,000. According to Zilly, it is common for conference requests and payments to be large because of the number of expenses involved in sending a group to a conference.

“Conferences are very expensive and involve transportation, food and often times a conference registration,” he said. “Most of the time, clubs want to send a lot of people on these conferences. The finance board usually cuts the money awarded by sending less people than originally asked.”

Of the top five largest payments from the fund, three were for trips to conferences.

The largest disbursement was $9,000 for a Black Student Union trip to a leadership conference. The second largest was $8,500 for the Dance Team and Pep Band to travel. Third was  for Recreational Programs to travel to the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association conference, just over $8,000. Fourth and fifth were almost $6,500 for the Student Entertainment Council to attend the conference for the National Association for Campus Activities and just over $6,000 for Rider’s chapter of the National Broadcasting Society to attend a conference in California, respectively.

According to Guzman, Rider students made an excellent choice in selecting this finance board.

“This Finance Board has done a lot of good,” he said. “I think the students did a good job in electing them.”

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