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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Union devises plan for rollover funds

Published: March 28, 2008
Section: Front Page

Union Treasurer Choon Woo Ha ’08 and President Shreeya Sinha ’09 will present a plan to address the problem of excess SAF money to the Union Senate Sunday. This fiscal year, there is approximately $170,000 of “unintentional rollover,” Ha explained in an e-mail message.

Unintentional rollover, Ha explained, consists of F-board allocated money unspent by clubs and organizations. At the start of the school year, there was approximately $40,000 in unintentional rollover, said Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer. “The red flag went up during the fall semester because the rollover seemed to be growing,” Sawyer stated.

Along with the $170,000 unspent by clubs is $150,000 in the CapEx fund. The CapEx fund was created in 2006 as part of the SAF amendment. “[The] CapEx Fund is for any capital expenditure-related items that are over $5,000,” said Ha. Money from the CapEx fund is considered intentional rollover.

Even so, according to both Ha and Sawyer, the $150,000 ceiling put on the fund has proven too high. In order to lower the ceiling on CapEx, Ha explained, “we will have to go through Constitutional Amendment.”

Part of the reason for such a large sum of unintentional rollover is the increase in available SAF monies. The fee is traditionally 1% of tuition. Because of yearly tuition increases, the Student Activities Fee has grown yearly as well. Sawyer explained that growth in student clubs has not kept up with the growth in available funding. “Growth in revenue is outpacing growth in demand,” he said.

Additionally, Ha explained that ideally, each semester F-board would allocate monies for that semester plus whatever rollover exists, thereby preventing a build-up in unintentional rollover. “That has not occurred for a long time. Thus, x amount every semester has been accumulating to a high amount over a period of time,” Ha said.

In order to address the problem of an ever-growing SAF fund, Ha and Sinha have proposed capping the Student Activities Fee paid as part of a student’s tuition. “SAF will be capped for next fiscal year, meaning students will be charged the same amount next year as they were this year…despite the fact that tuition is increasing,” Ha explained via e-mail.

“We propose a temporary cap to the SAF fee so that spending can catch up with the rollover amount,” Sinha wrote in an e-mail message.

“We will propose a Constitutional Amendment to the Student Body in two weeks where students can vote. This means no increase in the SAF fee that students have to pay, and a more manageable amount of money for the F-board,” she said.

Ha added, “because of [the] rollover amount, we can still be sustainable without the increase in SAF for next year.”

Sawyer supported the plan to cap SAF. He described a cap as a way to “buy time to more perfectly develop a plan.”

Sinha responded, “Capping the SAF for a temporary one year allows for…a more manageable amount [of money] to deal with while we implement our long term plans.”

“We have already done things like expanding the F-board scope and expansion of the Office of the Treasurer for the benefit of club leaders before this situation came up,” Sinha explained.

Along with devising a plan to prevent similar rollover situations in the future, the Union is bound by its Constitution and By-laws to spend the $170,000 accrued in unintentional rollover, Ha explained.

“The last time there was this type of rollover was three or four years ago,” Sawyer stated. At that time, students voted to “invest in the game room in Usdan,” he said.

“There are several angles we have explored [to spend the $170,000] and not any one of them will be the solution,” Sinha said.

“The Executive Committee to Manage SAF suggests a rollover Marathon where clubs can request large scale events or initiatives that are both practical and benefit the entire campus,” Sinha described, “other plans include a more sustainable financial system, SAF management system, appeals process to the F-board, faster check turn around time, more direct communication with club leaders and allowing for the F-board funding scope to take effect.”

“These are steps we were already taking,” Sinha commented, “we need about a year to see how all the plans will affect unintentional rollover. We have a plan, we just need time to see it through.”