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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student Union treasury comes to club finance protocol compromise

Published: August 31, 2007
Section: News

Student Union clubs will now operate under a new system when dealing with individual club funds, said sources within the Union Treasury. These changes include the creation of a new Office of the Treasury as well as a new system for handling club finances.

There are two new positions that the Treasurer created, explained Student Union President Shreeya Sinha 09 in an e-mail to the Hoot. They are the Assistant Treasurer and the Advisory Committee to the Treasurer.

[Student Union Treasurer] Choon [Woo Ha] 08 has been working on these positions over the summer to help ease his own responsibilities while offering more opportunities for students to get involved, said Sinha.

Additionally, she said, this new office also allows other students to get involved with the financial process, thus fostering greater transparency.

Members of the Office of the Treasury will assist me [in] all aspects of the Treasurer position, said Ha. I hope to bring much more efficiency to the handling of club finances.

Additionally, at the end of last term, the Student Union reached an agreement with Brandeis administration to replace the practice of Brandeis clubs having their own off-campus bank accounts with a new system designed to provide greater transparency.

This will include the replacement of any off-campus club bank accounts with what is known as a Procurement Card, or P-Card, a sort of debit card given to some clubs, and a system of loans and emergency checks through the Student Union Office of the Treasury.

[The P-Card] works exactly like a credit card….it allows clubs to make direct purchases which are charged against the funds allocated to them by the F-Board, explained Assistant Vice President for Students and Enrollment Keenyn McFarlane.

A few years ago the University began talking about the off-campus bank accounts issue, Ha said. A lot of clubs and organizations on campus had been creating their own…bank accounts outside the university there were not enough human resources to manage them all.”

Ha also explained that the lack of official connection to the university tax ID number made the club funds a bad liability for the university since there was no way for the university to know how many there were.

The University could not easily keep track of these funds, but might still be held legally accountable for them.

Ha also added that with club leaders changing every year, having so many different people with access to off-campus accounts and not being able to keep track of them had a high potential to create confusion.

Last year, Student Union Leaders and I discussed the problems associated with off-campus bank accounts, said McFarlane. We agreed that the existence of such bank accounts was not in the long-term interest of current and future students.” However, according to Ha, that meant the Student Union clubs were going to have a lot of inconveniences.

After some negotiation, Student Union leaders and administration came to an agreement: instead of having all club financial transactions go through the University Accounts Payable Department, clubs will have other payment methods, organized by the Student Union Office of the Treasury.

In order to preserve the functionality and flexibility of having an off-campus bank account, the student leadership has worked with the university to provide the new system. […of] procurement cards [and] short term loans through the Student Union, said McFarlane. Hopefully, these changes will provide the students with the same access to resources while minimizing risk.

The P-Card system gives student organizations more autonomy over their finances and eliminates extra steps that might occur without access to this card, added Sinha.

The new system, said Ha, provides greater transparency for everyone. Were going to know how [clubs] are doing fiscally. If theyre struggling, we can help them out.

When the IRS comes, Ha said, this new system is much more reliable since we are following all the University and the federal regulations;

at the same time, it provides much more transparency and simple money flow for all clubs.

Indeed, in a Spring 2007 report to the Student Union, Ha added that if people think that the SAF amendment was the biggest Brandeis student financial reform in years, they are mistaken.