After going through a gauntlet of meticulous scrutiny, the 2012-2013 Financial Bylaws were unanimously approved by the Undergraduate Student Government Senate on Thursday.
Among the changes, the bylaws now allow clubs to use their budgets for air travel and restrict apparel spending.
The bylaws were drafted over the summer by Treasurer Allen Abraham and former Treasurer Thomas Kirnbauer under the supervision of President Anna Lubitz and former President Mark Maloof.
Addressing a controversy that happened last year when the roller hockey team’s inability to pay for a flight to Salt Lake City resulted in its forfeiture of the bid for the national title, the new bylaws now allow clubs to pay for air travel with USG funding,
A new restriction that would prohibit clubs from spending more than 10 percent of their budget on apparel was another significant change. This, said Abraham, is in response to the tendency of certain clubs to spend their entire allotted funds on T-shirts, which do little to enrich student life.
Club coaches, who are now mandated to become CPR certified, also face mandatory background checks before being hired.
There are now four grants available to clubs: asset, event, national event grants and regional event grants. Event grants are capped at $3,000, while regional and national event grants are capped at $4,000. Asset grant requests over $2,700 must be approved by the Senate. All of these events are funded by 40 percent of the rollover of USG’s $3.1 million budget. Five percent of ticket revenues will also go into the event grant fund.
Abraham also announced some important provisions, including the formation of an event committee for the purpose of approving grant requests, which was previously done by the whole senate before proving to be tedious and obstructive due to the volume of grant requests received.
If a club overdrafts on its budget in one semester, the same amount will be subtracted from its funding for the following semester.
The amendment process began later on. One notable concern of the Senate was the lack of a check for the treasurer’s power to freeze and unfreeze the budgets of clubs who were in violation of the USG Code. In light of this, Kirnbauer and Abraham offered to divide the power to freeze a club’s budget between the treasurer and an independent fiscal agent and to give the power to unfreeze a budget exclusively to the agent. This was accepted by the Senate.
A particularly heated debate ensued after Senator Anne Chau proposed that both on-campus and off-campus events be eligible for event grants. Spearheading this push was Vice President of Academic Affairs Derek Cope, who said that allowing event grants for only on-campus events would be discriminatory toward clubs who are competitive in nature because they would have no grant-related way to fund meets.
“There are 160 clubs, and every club always wants more money to do…as many events as possible,” said Senator Priya Sohi at the meeting. “If every club did what they want to the extent that they wanted it, we wouldn’t have enough money to support everyone’s endeavors.”
Cope said that by not giving competitive clubs a grant for regional competitions, the Senate was “throwing them in the trash.”
Eventually, the language of the bylaws was changed to allow clubs to use a national event grant for a regional competition “in which multiple schools are invited to attend” if it is proven to be essential to future participation in national events. It is up to the club to prove to the Senate that the proposed event meets these criteria.
A motion by former Treasurer Kirnbauer to allow clubs whose budgets were frozen to petition the Senate to unfreeze their budgets was adopted.
Other items on the agenda were the announcement of the development of an iPhone app for SOLAR; the appointment of Abraham and Cope to two vacant spots on the Faculty Student Association board; and the approval of the new budget timeline. A new Justice for the USG Supreme Court, Anna Santiago, was also approved by the Senate.