Vice President of Finance and Administration Rich Madonna, Director of Financial Aid Sean Martin, and SGA Chief of Finance Amanda Yacos ’18 hosted an event in Coffee Grounds titled “Where is your money going?” While at the Q&A Madonna and Martin answered questions in relation to their specific areas, Yacos spoke about her duties as Chief of Finance. She is responsible for club allocations, something that has been frustrating for students involved in clubs over the years. Many club leaders feel as if they do not get enough money to run their club, or they find themselves having trouble funding events. This then makes many students wonder how SGA is using its funds in relation to clubs, and whether this is being done fairly.
Yacos began the event by stating that as Chief of Finance, she receives $368,000 a year to allocate to students through SGA. In an interview following the event, she informed the Voice that these funds are not only for club allocations, but also include allocations for SAC, each class council, and SGA committees and initiatives. Out of the $368,000, only around $130,000 is used for club allocations. Currently, SGA provides part of this sum to 56 clubs and organizations.
Many students, especially those in clubs or in charge of clubs, wonder how the amount of money they get is decided. The Voice brought this question to Yacos, who explained the process. The SGA Finance Committee consists of Yacos, four students-at-large, and two SGA senators. In the spring, each club an allocation request form. The categories include food, events, equipment, referees, etc. Funding hearings then take place to ready clubs for the upcoming year. As these decisions are made, the students-at-large on the committee, who do not occupy a seat in SGA. This is an important factor because it broadens the range of opinions that go into these decisions. Additionally, Yacos added, “during this process, we consider membership, need, fundraising account funds, past history, and events that they are proposing, as well as the possible rise in requirements for participation. For example, the Equestrian Team will need to pay more for entry into competition.”
Of course, there are restrictions for each category, and the committee wants to make sure that each club comes prepared with serious and reasonable funding estimates. For instance, in the case of artist, singer, and speaker fees, Yacos said, “We will not fund speaker fees unless you have either chosen a speaker/performer and communicated with their representation about cost, or chosen several options and have as accurate as possible an estimate for the cost. We understand that the eventual event is subject to change, but we want to see serious intent.” This is due to the fact that there are a lot of clubs the committee has to account for and a limited amount of money, so they want to make sure that the money is fairly distributed, and that everyone gets money for what they need.
Whatever is decided after this first meeting with the Chief of Finance and the Finance Committee in the spring can be subject to change. Yacos said, “After the allocation process, we return in the fall to begin specialty funding. This is when clubs have unforeseen financial needs present once again, and explain to the committee their need.” Therefore, it is important for clubs to keep in mind that money is set apart for specialty funding, and that they can always request more money if something they had not expected happens. This specialty funding is crucial for clubs, especially those that are newer or less organized, so it is important that they bring any expense concerns to the Finance Committee, because that is what the committee is there to do over the course of the school year.
Many clubs and students in general have an image of the Finance Committee as a group of students ambivalent to their financial needs, but Yacos argued differently: “In any case where we state that membership dues should have to cover the remaining expense, we are open to hearing about why you think that we should fully fund you; we’ve been convinced before.” The committee and Chief of Finance are flexible and willing to work with clubs who put their best foot forward during the allocation process, and who give them a persuasive and well-thought-out presentation.