SGI Financial Report Released

The long-awaited “financial report” from Student Government, Inc. was approved and published in its newsletter on Monday, outlining the expected revenue and allocated expenditures voted on by the SGI floor in early September.

The final numbers reveal that SGI has close to $1.1 million to spend this fiscal year — nearly all of it coming from the student activity fees paid by every University student each semester.

SGI’s executive board said that the report, published in the organization’s fall newsletter, would be available on St. John’s Central in the near future. Currently it is only accessible in PDF form at a hard-to-find page on Issuu, a website that allows users to upload digital documents, and the organization’s closed group on Facebook.

A condensed version of the report can be found on page 4.

Some interesting figures gleaned from the report include revenue of $25,000 from the Co-Op and $2,500 from the Vineyard Vines Totes and Ties program. This revenue is in addition to the money from the activity fee.

The largest allocation of the “government budget” belongs to “SGI Floor Training and Education Expenses” with $45,000, after $0 was allocated for a similar “Government Workshops” in the 2010-2011 budget, the most recent budget available. In a follow-up email, Vice President Oscar Diaz said that this category included stipends for the e-board. The most recent SGI budget, from 2010-11, shows $32,000 allocated for the executive board, an allocation that doesn’t exist in this year’s budget.

“That’s a list of activities that student government does from one fiscal year to the next,” SGI president Christian Williams said. “So, we start out with the training session, then potentially executive board expenses.”

Diaz clarified, “It’s leadership training, professional development. Anything from student government apparel, like the polos that we have to represent us on campus.”

Williams had ignored requests from the Torch for a full budget release throughout the semester. Several members of the board said that floor members of SGI voted not to disclose the allocated money for each individual organization because they feared their budget requests weren’t fit to be publicized.

“When we released our budget package…we didn’t say to them ‘ oh would you like your budget released for everyone to see?’” Elizabeth Sheehan, SGI secretary said.

As a result, the financial report separates the 133 student organization into nine categories, with between three and 29 organizations in each. Each category displays the number of organizations and the lowest and highest funding levels in the category.

“We don’t create the situation where people are comparing each other’s budgets,” treasurer Elaine Vasquez said.  “Since this is the first year we’re doing this, we want to remain sensitive to that.”

The release of the financial report, the first from the organization according to the board, came nearly three months after the original budget was passed.

E-board members explained the reason for the long wait of the final report was due to the fact that every step had to be approved by parliamentary procedure by members of the SGI floor.

“When we were releasing this financial report it was entirely driven by the floor.,” Sheehan said. “It was encompassing all of the views and opinions of the representatives.”

Through the process of several meetings during the course of October and November, delayed by Superstorm Sandy, Sheehan and Diaz said the floor voted on every aspect of the report, from its structure to the numbers that would be presented.

After this year’s report took nearly three months to develop, Diaz and Sheehan, both juniors, hope to release future reports in a more timely fashion.

“I think a lot was the fact that this was the first time we’re doing this” Sheehan said. “I think going forward in years to come this is a format that’s going to stick. It’s something very workable. Though I think that when they’re, whoever is on the floor next year, when they’re working to set this up and they’re getting those numbers, it’s going right into that formatting. It’s not like you’re going back and recreating and reshuffling everything.”

To see the full financial report, click here.

Additional reporting by Nicole Valente, Managing Editor