On the fifth of each month, I collect about 50 budget reports from clubs on campus. I go through each of them, one at a time painstakingly. Every time, there are maybe five or 10 flawless reports; it takes maybe 10 minutes to go over each of those. However, the budget reports with some — or many — mistakes take much longer. I’ve been known to sit alone in the Student Government Association (SGA) Office, checking and re-checking a single monthly budget report for maybe 3 or 4 minutes before I can straighten everything out. Then it’s on to the next one.
But I’m not complaining. I love what I do for SGA. That’s right: my name is Taylor Snead, and I love fiscal responsibility. I can hear you all thinking right now, ‘So you’re a dork, whatever. What’s the point?’ The point is that there’s more than one way of looking at the proposed changes to the Student Grant Fund (SGF). I’m trying to give you a look at my viewpoint as SGA comptroller. Fiscal responsibility is important to me, and the way SGF works right now does little to encourage it.
When I first heard about the proposal to change SGF to a reimbursement-only system, I was torn. Like many students, I’ve gotten an advance from SGF to go to a really awesome conference. But, having read the bylaws for SGF and knowing that many people are irresponsible with the money they receive, I thought it might not be a bad idea to make students use their own money to pay and then be reimbursed for their expenses afterwards. I know that some students are perfectly responsible with the money they receive from SGF, but here are two ways in which people aren’t so good about it.
The most common problem is that a student pledges to go on a trip, receives the money, and then doesn’t go, for whatever reason. This happens most often when the student is part of a group — and it happens a lot. The other major problem occurs when someone has received an advance, gone on the trip, and then doesn’t turn in the receipts from that trip on time. That’s a huge “do not do.”
How can we know that you’ve gone and used the money as you were supposed to without some sort of proof? One way or another, changing to a system of reimbursements would solve both of those problems. But I don’t think many students look at it the way I’d, given the outcry against such a change. And, because we try to be a voice for the students, SGA amended the proposed changes so that advances would still be an option.
Instead, we voted to decide whether to make some changes to the bylaws and to change the way we enforce them. And I’m fine with those amendments. Like I said, I was torn about the idea of only giving reimbursements. But let’s go back to the first paragraph, where many club treasurers were having trouble knowing how to fill out a budget report.
Assuming that they’re a fair representation of the university’s student body, many Webster University students are somewhat uninformed about how to be fiscally responsible. And that worries me, because here’s the thing: college is the last safety net before the “real world.” I truly believe that. I also believe that, as a member of SGA, student government shouldn’t just be advocating for students. We should be working to help Webster’s students become great, well-prepared citizens.
We should be helping you to grow in every way possible, that includes learning how to manage money responsibly so that you can continue to do so throughout your lives. I think that’s especially the case when the money you’re using is given to you by SGA, but that the skills you use with SGA-granted money should bleed over into your personal lives, too. I’m not just some fiscal-responsibility-obsessed madwoman, I promise.
I want to see people go on awesome trips, and I want great things to happen on our campus, too. I want Webster students to be successful on every level. I just happen to have a somewhat different viewpoint about what that means. Here’s what I would say to you all, as students: show us that you can be fiscally responsible. Turn in your requests and receipts on time, take part in trips that you’re scheduled to go on, and ask questions if you’re confused. We’re here to help you, and that’s what we’re trying to do. — Taylor Snead is a sophomore accounting major and SGA comptroller.