Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Union, SE evaluate finance policy change

Published: April 4, 2008
Section: Front Page

In recent weeks, the Student Union and Student Events have been examining the success of Student Events’ first semester of financial independence. SE and the Union are also discussing the potential for Student Events collaborating with the Union in the future, according to Union officials and the Student Events Executive Board.

Last semester, Vice President of Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy accepted a SE proposal allowing the organization direct access to 17 percent of the Student Activities Fee, with input from the Department of Student Activities. This removed the necessity of Student Events going before the Finance Board to receive funding.

“We’ve been really happy with [the new system], in terms of financial structure,” said SE Co-Director Lauren Barish ’08. “It made internal finances much easier. It cuts out the middleman. It’s a lot more direct.”

SE Director of Finance Ben Gordon ’08 added that “we haven’t been to F-board once, and the quality of the entertainment, the quality of the food at events, and the overall quality has increased. I think the $32 [students] give to the Student Events Fee, they can see that a lot better now.”

One of SE’s problems was that the F-board’s system of allocating funds as line items, which means that the money can only be spent on the particular item designated by the F-board, did not allow SE to react to student demands or other circumstances on campus.

SE, though, said that the change allowed them to plan events after receiving student feedback, such as the student bar night that occurred this semester.

According to the SE E-board, under the old system, that event would have had to wait until the fall, because SE had not planned for it from the beginning of the semester.

Union officials, though, disagree that SE’s ability to directly access funds has made a substantial change. “The chargeline transfer has not, in my opinion, made any changes to social life on this campus,” explained Union Vice President Alex Braver ’09. “As far as I understand, there’s no reason for them to be receiving money from the administration.”

Braver did add, though, that he feels many of the complaints SE had with the current finance system are in the process of being corrected. “All those things, in my opinion, are fixed, or will be fixed,” he said.

Barish agreed that the Union has been incorporating SE suggestions, saying “a lot of what we asked for last semester, at the time, [the Union] said no. In the meantime, though, [Union Treasurer] Choon Woo [Ha ‘08] and the Office of the Treasury have addressed a lot of the issues. Not only could it be helpful for us, but for other groups as well.”

Ha has been leading the discussions for the Union alongside President Shreeya Sinha ’09, and for him the fact that SE does not come before the F-board remains a problem.

“I don’t consider the Finance Board a middleman,” he said. “They’re there to make sure that SAF money, paid by students, gets accounted for.”

“Every single club comes to the F-board, because it’s a process of fairness,” added Sinha. “We also hope to see that Student Events will look at the larger structure too.”

Another problem Sinha expressed is that SE does not open its application for Director to the entire student body, but instead keeps the process internal.

“I think the Student Events Director should be elected because what makes a great programmer is the ability to think of new, innovative ideas, and see them through,” she said. “When you appoint internally, the campus doesn’t know who you are.”

SE Co-Director Ilyssa Adler ’09 wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot “the reason we do an internal selection process is that it ensures we have the most qualified, trusted, and experienced individual leading the rest of staff.”

“We understand that it seems like the sort of position that could be voted on, “ she added.

“However,” she said, “if an individual is voted into the position and has never been on Student Events, or has not gained the trust and confidence of the entire staff, he/she will not be able to best serve the interests of student events and the student body.”

In the end, Gordon said that, while there is the possibility of SE working with the Union in the future, the organization does not want to radically change the system implemented this semester.

“We really like the system we have,” he said. “We’d like to keep that intact. There’s a possibility we’ll come back, there’s a possibility we won’t.”

Barish added that, whatever happens, “it’s not so much going back, as going forward together.”