By Ian Kreitzberg
The Student Finance Board began its Nov. 20 meeting in the Brower Student Center Room 104 as usual. However, the board ended up tabling all events pending an in-depth review of their finances and actions in relation to its constitution.
The catalyst for the 40 minute-long discussion that resulted in this decision effectively to suspend all SFB activities pending completion of the review was a special appropriation request by the Late Night Take and Physics Club to bring Bill Nye to campus in March 2020.
Hazy estimates and quotes had determined that the venture would cost approximately $80,000.
According to SFB’s guidelines, it cannot allocate more than 65 percent of the Student Activity Fee, which funds the board in the first semester, an objection that was raised by several members of the board.
“We cannot continue to blatantly violate the rules that we have stipulated. And I understand we’ve already done it, but it doesn’t make sense to continue to banter about this,” said Rishi Konkesa, a junior economics major and representative at large. “It’s very explicit in our rules. We cannot spend more than 65 percent. Lloyd has pointed out the obvious and egregious mistake we have made. And now, we’re continuing to do it? That just doesn’t make sense.”
The debate centered around the fact that while the SFB has violated this guideline, having already allocated 100 percent of the SAF, allocation is not necessarily equivalent to gross spending.
“Last year, we allocated around $2 million and … 600 grand went into reserves. I feel like this money should be going towards events and not just going back to reserves. I’d rather see the campus community benefit from someone coming in that they admire, and I think it’s kind of fiscally irresponsible to not give students an event that they’ve already paid so much money for,” said Aagna Patel, a junior finance major and SFB’s operations director.
The question was also raised that the Bill Nye event is set to take place in the spring semester, and that, as such, it might supersede the rule that states the board cannot allocate more than 65 percent of the SAF.
Members also brought up the fact that SFB has been in violation of another guideline, which states that agency fees in excess of $7,500 are not allowed. For years, all College Union Board-sponsored singers and performers have necessitated an agency fee that has been at or less than that number. However, CUB-sponsored agency fees have recently exceeded $7,500. The board has continued to approve and fund these events, thus violating its constitutional guidelines.
An aspect of the Bill Nye event includes agency fees that are unclear and may exceed the $7,500 limit, even though this rule has been violated for other events during the semester.
“We have done a poor job of adhering to our own guidelines,” said Padmore, a senior finance major the executive director of the SFB. “Moving forward, we can’t not adhere to our guidelines. It doesn’t matter if other groups have benefitted from past oversight.”
As such, all requests — including the Bill Nye event — have been tabled pending an in-depth monetary and constitutional investigation.
Some clubs are already being affected by the tabling’s results, including Lion’s Eye, for which their funds will be inaccessible until the end of the semester, meaning the organization will be unable to print until the beginning of next semester.