The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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New committee seeks to resolve conflicts

Student Government, Inc. created a new committee at their Sept. 12 meeting to ensure greater efficiency in the allocation of funds to organizations on campus.

The Event Review Committee, to be chaired by two students, Amaris Guzman and Lucinda Fleury, was developed as a way to check up on organizations who request money from the Special Allocations fund. It is the first new committee added to SGI since the Research and Development Committee was instituted in 2003.

“There were a lot of issues with how funding was being allocated to certain organizations,” Fleury said.

Rich Masana, president of SGI, agreed.

“We’re just trying to solve problems that plagued us in the past,” Masana said.

The Event Review Committee would be responsible for attending each event held with money awarded from Special Allocations. Each event would be scrutinized by a committee member, who would be responsible for recording all information pertinent to the event, such as number of students in attendance and amount of money spent on the hosting of the event.

“The Event Review Committee’s main goal is to make sure that student organizations are in fact creating events that will be beneficial to [the] St. John’s Community,” Amaris Guzman, ERC co-chair, said. “It will allow organizations to [heighten] their criteria of such events and serve the St. John’s Community as a whole.”

The information collected by the ERC would be filed in order to be used as reference for future budget requests.

The need for the committee came after questions were raised last spring over how SGI spent its Special Allocations funds. Several members of SGI were concerned with the types of programs that were receiving money from the limited funds available to campus organizations.

A proposal for a special commission was drafted last spring. The commission would have held SGI accountable for all of its spending. The proposal, which hoped to get greater information on SGI’s finances, sought to quell internal conflict over which organizations received money and for what purposes. The commission, however, proved to be unsuccessful when it was voted down on the floor of government.

The ERC hopes to help avoid any conflict over whether an organization is deserving of Special Allocations funding.

Along those same lines, the Budget Committee has instituted some new changes to its operations.

The committee is responsible for the allocation of funds to all student organizations on campus. Members of the committee meet bi-weekly to go over organizations’ requests for money from Special Allocations. Following a recommendation by the committee, the request is then voted upon by the members of the floor of SGI.

In the past, the vote for budgets took a great deal of time away from the regular SGI meetings. Because of the amount of information needed for the members to make an informed decision, the Budget Committee’s report could take hours.

The length of time spent on the budget caused many internal problems for SGI. In the past, voting members would either spend a great deal of time on one particular budgetary vote or they would go into a vote without having asked any questions and without having received any information. There were also problems with voting members leaving the meetings before budgets could be voted upon, causing more conflict on the floor.

“It is ridiculous for us to sit there for an hour and go through all the paperwork and talk to all the people and then have to go through it all over again,” Javon Ferdinand, Budget Committee co-chair, said of the old process.

A recently instituted change looks to alleviate such problems during future votes on budget. Instead of voting on individual budgets, the floor will now vote on groups of budgets. All requests with a recommendation for approval from the budget committee will be lumped together into one package. A vote to approve or deny the requests will affect all of the individual requests.

Budgets that are not recommended for approval will still be brought to the floor individually. Voting members will have a chance to ask questions and seek further information in order to decide whether to approve the organization for funding.

The Event Review Committee will also help with the efficiency of the Budget Committee, as their responsibility is to be the watchdog of organizations and the ways in which they spend money.

“You don’t want to spend money frivolously and not get anything back,” Fleury said.

The addition of the ERC will help ensure that SGI gets something back from every check written to finance student organizations.

While the changes to SGI aim at improving efficiency, only time will tell if all of the past problems can be solved under the new system.

“Overall it’s a good move for SGI,” Masana said. “It’s something that should have been done a long time ago.”

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