By Hannah Smith, Oct. 5, 2021
Clubs on campus are facing a major roadblock in planning and purchasing for events this fall semester as their budgets continue to await approval from ASI Financial Services.
While ASI Financial Services is working to approve club budgets for the academic year, some clubs have yet to hear back from ASI Financial Services on the status of their budget. This has caused problems for student organizations like the Panhellenic Council which has organized events with no budget.
“It’s kind of put a wrench in our plans,” said Panhellenic Council Treasurer Hannah Secrest. “Not having the money easily accessible has made it extremely difficult. We’ve had to rely on other people to pay for things and so I’ll be handing out a bunch of reimbursements basically once everything’s taken care of.”
The Panhellenic Council, which oversees sororities on campus, has yet to receive its budget for the 2021-2022 academic year, despite having filled out the proper budget request packets on time. Because its budget was not approved, the Panhellenic Council must find alternative ways to purchase items for recruitment and other events.
Carol Lee, chief financial officer of ASI, offered an explanation as to why clubs have experienced delays in their budgets’ approval.
“With some of the delays clubs are experiencing, some of it just has to do with errors,” said Lee. “There’s always that component and that’s year after year. If you submit a budget and it’s not accurate, it holds up the posting process.”
Lee explained how these errors can occur at the club level as well as the council level. The various councils that report to ASI, such as the Greek Council, Student-Interest Council and Multicultural Council, all have clubs that fall under their council. It is the job of the councils to take the money they receive from ASI and allocate at least 85% of that money to the clubs.
When there is an error in the council budget, clubs will not be able to receive their funds to create their own budget.
“That’s the problem I see this year; we encountered probably a few more errors at the council level than in the past and ultimately it affects the clubs,” said Ivonne Cabezas, associate director of revenue management for ASI.
Apart from errors in budgets creating delays, clubs are also encountering issues with their budget transferring to a new academic year. New executive board members of clubs have encountered the problem of returning to their clubs and having no funds available.
Chenna Hu, treasurer of the McNair Scholars Club, is new to the position this year and went to check with ASI Financial Services on the status of the club’s budget.
“They said they weren’t able to provide us with information about our budget, that in general there wasn’t any budget to speak of because our club wasn’t active,” said Hu.
Though the McNair Scholars Club is currently registered through the Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers because the previous e-board did not reregister the club during the 2020-2021 academic year, the McNair Scholars Club is left without funds. With the lack of funds from ASI Financial Services, the club is relying on emergency funds and fundraising in order to put on events and purchase items for the club.
According to Lee, the main issue causing continued budget delays is communication struggles between ASI Financial Services and the clubs.
“I think because of everything being virtual, there’s a lot of things being done via email and there’s a lot of Zoom,” said Lee. “There’s a lot of emails; it’s easy for a club or a council to miss an email we sent.”
Lee acknowledged ASI could send more follow up emails to ensure clubs and councils correct any errors within their budgets. Lee and Cabezas also mentioned working to set up budget office hours where clubs can ask their budget questions and get the help they need. There are also talks of a budget module on myBAR to reduce back-and-forth emails and allow clubs to fill out their budgets online and be notified immediately if they make an error.
Lee hopes to see this module implemented by spring 2022 when current clubs will be reregistering for the next academic year.
Clubs and councils have expressed interest in more communication from ASI Financial Services and hope that with an increase in communication, budget issues will be resolved quickly, and clubs can get back to doing what they do best.
Students can receive more updates on ASI Financial Services office hours by visiting the ASI financial services website.
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