Senate discusses financial management reform bill
Jack Jerit | Thursday, October 17, 2019
The Notre Dame student senate met Wednesday to discuss a new resolution to amend the student union constitution to add senatorial oversight over the spending of the different student union organizations. This resolution comes after the student senate met at the end of September with the Financial Management Board (FMB) to discuss potential ways to introduce more accountability into the usage of allocated funds.
The resolution was spearheaded by the student from the senate finance committee and was specifically read to the senate by Samuel Delmer, a sophomore senator from the Dillon community in Baumer Hall, who answered questions about the resolution afterwards. Members of various student union organizations expressed their concerns with various aspects of the resolution. Eric Kim, a senior and the executive director of the Student Union Board (SUB), had concern with the frequency of the audits due to SUB’s financing of on-campus concerts.
“For example, concerts — concerts take a long time to go through background checks, to go off the letters, to go through contracts,” Kim said. “It’s a long process, but it is a majority of our budget. Do we have to go through that constitutional process constantly to make sure that we are on budget and that we are still not off of allocating?”
Delmer focused on the timing of SUB’s budgeting in his response.
“When you budget, you budget for certain events at certain times,” he said. “The idea is that the treasurer is just making sure you’re meeting these times set forth.”
Senior Quentin Colo, the off-campus senator, raised concerns about the senate stepping on the toes of the Club Coordination Council (CCC).
“CCC gives accounts for the divisions but they can’t specify the clubs within each of the divisions,” Cole said. “Does this conflict with CCC policy?”
Delmer said he was open to a friendly amendment excluding the CCC from the regulation of the resolution. Christine Arcoleo, a senior and the student union treasurer from FMB, brought up concerns about this resolution granting the senate too much jurisdiction over fiscal policy.
“When I was seeking advice as to how to go about implementing accountability standards, my idea was not, ‘Oh just give senate the right to just look at these budgets and look at the finances.’ I was looking for actual steps,” Arcoleo said. “I’m very uncomfortable with the senate having the right to look at these numbers as it makes FMB useless, and it’s a very large amount of people that can have the choice to just be like, ‘I want to look at SUB’s budget, and I want to audit them,’ and stuff like that.”
Delmer said the resolution is designed to increase oversight of the fiscal process.
“The extent to which that first clause could be used, I think it is a useful clause in the end. If the FMB is doing its job, then that clause is not necessary, but if the FMB isn’t doing its job effectively, then that clause is useful in order to hold accountability,” “Delmer said. Ultimately we [the senate] are the representatives for the students. We are the representatives of the people.”
Other major points brought up during the discussion included whether this resolution is constitutional based on how it treats special interest organizations like PrismND, the fact that individual students can already request these budgets from the FMB, the perception of SUB’s spending habits from the school, the structure of the FMB and enacting a requirement for the FMB to meet with the student senate once a semester similar to one passed last year for the CCC.
Ultimately, the resolution was not voted upon and was sent back to the finance committee where there will be additional changes made to the legislation based on today’s discussion.