MCSG forums turn out thirteen rollover proposals

By Richard Raya

Spanning two academic years, the issue of MCSG’s $50,000 rollover fund and its discovery in the spring semester of the 2010-11 year has sparked confusion and debate. In the past week, MCSG has hosted two events pertaining to the rollover money, one on the Oct. 20 and the other on Oct. 23. The first event, a public informational forum, was attended by no students outside of MCSG. Jesse Horwitz ’13, MCSG Vice President and chair of the Student Services and Relations Committee (SSRC) said that this is most likely because this first meeting was meant to give a basic overview of the rollover, and that anyone interested in the rollover fund probably already knew the basic facts. The second event, at which students could propose their project ideas for rollover allocations, was attended by ten students outside of MCSG. Some of the ideas proposed were conceived by students from last semester and several proposals were emailed or written in from students unable to attend the meeting, resulting in a total of thirteen proposals for how to spend the money. The ideas presented varied in terms of scope and target, with a few advocating for on-campus recreational space for students such as a game room for the lounge, a tetherball court or more ping-pong tables, while others were slanted more towards the infrastructure of the school, advocating the repair or renovation of the wind turbine or the Kirk science labs. One idea suggested paying professional artists or willing students to create murals around Macalester to beautify the campus. Accumulation of unspent budget dollars resulted in the rollover fund, said Mac McCreary ’12, Chair of the Student Government’s Financial Affairs Committee (FAC). “Each semester, we create something called the operating fund,” McCreary said. “Student organizations give us proposals regarding how much money they know they’ll need for all of their activities, which we analyze and use to determine how much money clubs will get. Then, there’s always a little extra in the operating fund in case orgs need it.” However, McCreary states that it is common for the budgeting committee to have student org leaders overestimate their costs for the semester. As such, budgets prepare for more money than is actually needed and some money goes unused. “This is something that happens every year – rollover itself isn’t unique,” McCreary said. “What happens, though, is that instead of returning to the main MCSG treasury, unspent operating fund dollars return to a separate account to clear the budget – and for the past several years, no one really checked that account.” When the FAC finally checked on all of the unspent operating fund money from the past several years, they were shocked. “It’s never been that big,” McCreary said. Upon discovery of the sum, now estimated to be $50,000 for proposal allocation, that year’s FAC members faced outcry from the student body, and student orgs in particular. “Some clubs were angry because they’d been denied funding for something, and then all of a sudden discovered this money at the end of the semester.” In response to the discovery of the extra money, MCSG opened a forum for ideas on how to spend it. The responses were swift and varying. “Some people wanted all of the money to be redirected back into the next operating fund, some wanted to donate it to various charities, and others wanted to just blow it all on one big celebration like Springfest,” said Horwitz. “It was clear some sort of compromise would have to be reached.” Horwitz, McCreary, and other MCSG members, with suggestions from the student body, eventually crafted a bill that said, in short, that the amount of the rollover fund to be spent would be relegated to $50,000, with the rest returning to the main fund, and that voting on what to actually do with the money would take place the following year. “We didn’t want to give all the money to orgs, because that would establish a precedent we couldn’t keep up with, and we didn’t want to blow all the money on one event because only one class would enjoy the money,” McCreary said. “We decided that since this money was culled from several years of students, it should fund a long-term project that the entire school could enjoy for years to come, with ideas proposed by students.” According to MCSG’s Rollover Bill, an advocat will be designated to each proposal to oversee the development of their own project. Ideas that are deemed irresponsible, unfeasible, or illegal will be removed from the running. After a survey of the student body, each advocate will present an outline of their project plan to the student body prior to a vote by the student body via email.