Budget Commitee Implements New Procedures

The+changes+to+the+budget+committee%27s+procedures+are+intended+to+reward+clubs+for+using+their+money+efficiently%2C+as+well+as+meet+the+needs+of+Fordham%27s+clubs.+%28Courtesy+of+Flickr%29

The changes to the budget committee’s procedures are intended to reward clubs for using their money efficiently, as well as meet the needs of Fordham’s clubs. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Sarah Huffman, News Editor

The University’s budget committee is currently in the process of changing the budget procedures and guidelines. At the end of last semester, it implemented a few new procedures but it plans to make more significant changes this semester.

According to Elizabeth Bjorklund, FCRH ’21, United Student Government’s vice president of finance and budgets, last semester, the committee made three major changes, the first being that they got rid of the rule that clubs could not change the dates of an event. Previously, if clubs failed to submit a date change form to the budget committee, the club would not be able to change the date of an event. If they tried to change the date after the originally planned date had passed, they would not be able to do so as the funds would have expired.

The second was that clubs could reallocate leftover funds from an event to a future event. Previously, if the club did not use all of their money for an event, the funds would expire and get added back into the large pool of money that is allocated to all the clubs on campus.

“We want to make sure clubs are using funds efficiently,” said Bjorklund. “(This) allows clubs to use all their money in an effective way.”

Bjorklund said they want to reward clubs for using their funds in a smart way, and they did not think clubs should be punished for finding smarter ways to use their money.

“(We) want to make sure we’re allowing clubs to program, but using (their money) wisely,” she said. “(We) want to make it easier, but not too easy to be used recklessly.”

Mary Hurstell, FCRH ’21, treasurer for the Theatrical Outreach Program (TOP), said letting club leaders reallocate funds eased the budgeting process.
“Especially for performing groups like TOP where budgets can vary wildly from production to production,” said Hurstell.

The third major change made last semester was the implementation of “Fordham preferred vendors.” These are stores near Fordham that clubs make purchases from often, such as Party City or Pugsleys.

Clubs have to submit backup documentation when receiving money or being reimbursed to prove that the price of an item is what they say it is. Adding Fordham preferred vendors loosened the rules regarding backup documentation for those establishments.

“These changes were approved at the end of last semester, so they have only been in place for this semester,” said Bjorklund. “The changes have been great so far and appear to take some of the weight off of club leaders.”

The budget committee plans to make more major changes as the semester goes on. Bjorklund said she met with the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) recently to make sure everything had proper justification. After being reviewed by OSI, the changes were sent to Dean Rodgers and are currently with him.

After Rodgers reviews them, they will be presented at USG’s Senate meeting and the Student Life Council meeting after that. Bjorklund said they are expected to be presented at those various meetings this week and next week, but nothing is guaranteed. She said everything should be approved by the end of the semester.

The budget committee has been considering making changes to its procedures for over a year now and plans to announce major changes this semester, said Bjorklund.

In fall of 2018, a few USG representatives went to a student government conference. Bjorklund said they learned that Fordham’s budget practices are much different from other schools. Last spring, the committee reached out to other universities to see what their systems were like. This past fall, the committee talked about the needs of Fordham clubs.

They completed a research phase with club leaders where they collected feedback about the guidelines and procedures. She said the overall consensus was that it was complicated, confusing and time consuming.

“(It’s) real money,” said Bjorklund. “We want to make sure it’s spent wisely.”

As the plans move forward, Bjorklund said it is unclear how much is going to change, but the committee plans to have information sessions as things move forward.

Bjorklund said they got a new advisor this semester: Alex Voorhees, student organizations and engagement specialist in OSI. She said Voorhees orders everything for clubs, so hopefully they should see more communication between the budget committee and OSI starting this semester.

Overall, Bjorklund said the budget committee wants to guide clubs and be seen as a resource. She said they hate to deny people over technicalities, and she emphasized to clubs that they are an ally to clubs.