This semester, the Albion College Student Senate Appropriations Committee has released their first bi-annual Student Activity Fee (SAF) Financial Report. The first report outlines the division of funds for various student organizations for the fall 2014 semester and can be found on the Senate website.
Each student pays the SAF alongside their tuition for that year. The fee goes towards campus organizations and Union Board events, just to name a few. Student Senate hopes to become more transparent to the college community in how they manage their funds by publishing this report. Senate chief financial officer Mitch Moore, East Lansing junior, was involved in the writing, publishing and approving of the final document.
“We encourage students to participate in understanding how the SAF is used and distributed,” Moore said. “Our goal is to promote transparency since every student pays into the SAF and thus, every student should have access in knowing where the fee goes.”
This report was published in response to frustration towards Student Senate from various campus clubs and organizations regarding substantial budget cuts from previous semesters. Moore emphasized that these budget cuts were necessary due to factors outside of the Appropriations Committee’s control.
“The Student Activity Fee is one of the very few places students have direct control and decision making power on how the funds are to be distributed and used,” Moore said. “The SAF guidelines is what governs how the SAF is to be used to promote educational, culturally enriching, and entertaining programming that includes all aspects of the college and greater Albion community”.
Vice Chair on the committee, Clare Russell, Dearborn sophomore also stressed the significance of this new report.
“I think that it is really important for students to know where their money is going,” Russell said.
Russell explained that each year, students pay approximately $200 towards the SAF. The total is divided up between the following categories: General Clubs & Organizations, Greek Life, Sports Clubs Associations, Student Senate, Student Volunteer Bureau, Umbrella and Union Board/UB Late Night Programming.
Most individual organizations have an overarching governing body that helps them plan their budgets, for example, sororities and fraternities have the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council and Sports teams have the Athletic Department. Most General Clubs & Organizations do not.
Alina Karusas, Ishpeming junior, is Treasurer of Sigma Alpha Iota, international music fraternity, one of the General Clubs & Organizations on campus that must make financial decisions on its own, and usually gets a smaller cut from the SAF.
“[The SAF report] reassures me where the money is going,” Karusas said. “We used to get a lot more money than we did this past year, so its a little bit frustrating especially for a smaller club. Definitely looking at this before I go question Senate gives me a sense of being of more informed.”
Moore explained that though the amount each student pays toward the SAF might change each year due to fluctuating number of students, each semester the committee votes to approve the percentages that each category of organizations receives from the SAF.
Moving forward, this SAF Financial Report will be published at the beginning of each semester, clearly laying out the division of money from the previous semester for the student body.
As a Student Senate alumni I applaud this move! The previous administrations have always allowed for the budget to be viewed but didn’t make it as accessible or encouraged. I only hope this doesn’t open up a Pandora’s box of bickering amongst organizations.
Keep up the great work and best of luck!