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Student Senate decides to fund accumulated debt

April 17, 2014

Student Senate has resolved to use Senate funds to pay off nearly $7,000 of debt accumulated from disbanded student organizations in a motion that was passed last Tuesday.

The motion stipulates that funds from the Senate funding pool will be used to cover the negative balances. Funds currently in the Senate funding pool were attained from organizations that did not spend all of their allocated balances.

The disbanded organizations include Business Association, Soccer Club, Forensics and Men’s Baseball, which all are out existence for various reasons. Of the four groups, the Business Association left the largest amount of debt: $4,448. Some of these organizations have tried to redeem their debt through fundraising efforts, but were unsuccessful.

Student Senate Vice President Tony Sumnicht believes it is the responsibility of Student Senate to resolve this issue.

“We are the only people who can be held accountable for this debt,” Sumnicht said.

Director of Student Life Paul Shepherd supports the motion and believes that multiple parties, including student organizations, Student Senate and Student Life should be held responsible for monitoring finances.

“I’m really happy they chose to do this. I applaud this year’s Student Senate for stepping up,” Shepherd said.

It has been a challenge for all parties to eliminate this debt, since there has been debate over who should be held responsible for the charges. Student organization spending was not effectively tracked in the past, which has caused unpaid balances to remain stagnant for the past several years.

“Through better financial practices, Student Senate became aware of the debt that was there,” Sumnicht said. “We didn’t want the debt to negatively reflect on the student body.”

In order to prevent student organization debt in the future, Student Senate and Student Life are working together to provide resources for student leaders to track their budgets. Student Life restructured their department, dropping certain programs and student workers. They then added a budget and operations coordinator, Kelly Hussong, who educates and assists student leaders with their budgeting. Both Student Life and Student Senate provide financial assistance for her position.

In addition to hiring a professional staff member to track finances, Student Senate and Student Life added a financial application on OrgSync, which is a resource where student organization leaders can record their budgets and save them for future years. Student Life is also providing more options for students to effectively spend the money in their accounts.

“We always encourage student leaders to understand what charges there are,” Shepherd said. “We’ll do whatever we can to support, but whatever students do is up to them.”

Sumnicht said there has been interest in starting a Soccer Club, but the current state of the organization made it discouraging for students to reorganize the club. Interested students were informed that they would have had to fundraise to pay off the debt, only to have a balance of zero. Now that the debt has been paid off, it may encourage students to regroup these disbanded organizations.

“We were hindering students from reforming,” Sumnicht said. “We wanted a clean slate.”