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Feinberg to propose changes to SAF

By John Krisch

Section: News

March 17, 2006

Union President Jenny Feinberg '07 will present a proposal to the Student Senate on Sunday which contains reforms to the way the Student Activities Fee (SAF) is disbursed.

The proposal as written would radically alter funding from its current system, granting the Union Finance Board (F-board) more funding for unsecured clubs and organizations, as well as abolishing the “piece of the pie” percentage allocations currently granted to secured organizations, according to the proposal draft, which was obtained by The Hoot.

The end goals for the reforms are financial accountability, the elimination of poor spending, and the pursuit of efficiency, according to Feinberg, speaking Tuesday at a public discussion on the proposal. Under the plans for funding changes, the F-Board, which currently allocates 38% of SAF funding, would have 52% of the SAF to disburse to unsecured clubs, a change of $100,000 according to the proposal.

Under the proposed changes, the Student Union and the Justice would be the only organizations which receive guaranteed funding. BEMCo, Waltham Group, Student Events, WBRS, The Archon, and BTV65 would all lose their guaranteed funding. Instead, these groups would be assigned a recommended allocation by the Union, and representatives from the groups would be required to meet with the F-board to explain their financial decisions.

The proposal also calls for creation of a Capital Expenditures Fund, which would be used by university clubs that need to make large emergency purchases. This would relive secured organizations of their need to maintain their own private emergency funds.

The SAF reform proposal will be presented to the Senate on Sunday, but it has been a year in the making. Last year, Danny Silverman 05 presented a PowerPoint presentation to the Student Senate explaining that groups are not getting the money they deserve.

From there, many conversations discussing funding have taken place with individuals, clubs, and the community, according to Feinberg, including Tuesdays open forum. An investigation into the budgets of groups brought conclusions that the F-board does not get enough money and that there are many ways to curb wasteful spending. It was also discovered that there is a huge disparity between what secured groups need and what they get, said Feinberg.

Union representatives defended the guaranteed funding of the Justice by citing the origins of university secured funding. The Government and Media Fee, created in the 1980s, separately guaranteed funding to the student government and student media (the Justice and WBRS) to ensure that the campus newspapers could print without fear of losing funding.

Feinberg suggested that, by making the Justice independent of F-board, it can honestly report on the F-board without fear of losing funding. However, the Justice will receive a flat amount of money under the new proposal, covering printing costs, and it will have to pay for its growth through ad revenue.

Originally, the Union proposed the creation of a Student Programming Board to get more involved in the discussion of events on campus, according to Feinberg. But, after initial resistance, the Union retracted that idea from the proposal. Union officials are instead considering alternative ways to better organize Student Events. We need to make Student Events more open to the community, Feinberg said. Leaders from SE are starting to open the organization up to students, with their Directors election now up to all.

Though the reform may cause secured groups to curb their spending in the future, Feinberg suggested that she was committed to funding those groups, citing importance of secured organizations to the university. We recognize that secured groups serve a purpose for students on campus, said Feinberg.

Its about accountability, added Union Senator-at-Large Alison Schartzbaum 08 Tuesday at the Union open forum.

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