New rollover bill passes MCSG legislative vote

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MCSG passed a bill two weeks ago stating that all future student activity fee rollover funds will be allocated to various organizations serving the student body on an annual basis. The bill was proposed by Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Kate Hamilton ’13 and will take effect this fiscal year.

Though the school voted to use last year’s rollover money to build an on-campus ice rink, future funds will not go through the same student proposal process.

“Last year was an immediate problem solving way to deal with it,” Hamilton said. “This has a little bit more longevity. It’s an automatic process so it’s not that the money builds up for a couple of years and then all of a sudden it’s ‘oh, we have $100,000, what are we going to do with it?’”

The ice rink will still happen, but Hamilton feels that the new rollover plan will better serve the students to whom the money really belongs.

“Students pay their student activity fee every semester and they should be able to access it that semester, or in the next year,” she said. “So when seniors graduate they’ll give a little of their rollover to freshmen coming in and vice versa. It works on that kind of a scale, but [this way] you can access it in your three or four years here.”

Program Board, known best to the student body as the brains behind Winter Ball and Springfest, will receive 25 percent of the funds annually, the largest amount planned for any individual organization. The Capital Fund, Operating Fund and Travel Fund are next in line with 16.67 percent of the budget each. Services in the Student Lounge, the Student Organization Resource Center (SORC) (funded through Campus Programs), the Textbook Reserve Program and the Community Chest Fund will each acquire portions of the budget as well.

The bill, written by Hamilton, states that “these percentages are subject to change as MCSG sees fit, to accommodate changing fiscal needs of the community and new areas requiring support.”

New organizations can also be added to the list, given that they maintain community access to the student activity fee.

Hamilton has been planning the bill since this summer and spoke with services and organizations before deciding how funds will be divided.

“This is a basic skeleton of where we’re already giving money and who could use more,” she said. “I asked some people ‘what amount of money could really make a difference in what you’re doing?’ I then worked backwards on an average of the rollovers for the past couple of years—which have been admittedly high—and then did the percentages so that it doesn’t matter how big the rollover is, there’s some sort of way to deal with it automatically.”

But these numbers aren’t set in stone.

“[The bill is] amendable, so if somebody gets really excited and wants to create a grant fund for student projects that can be built in here,” said Hamilton. “This is just a basic framework of where to go from here.”

History of the rollover

The saga of the rollover fund has been going on for nearly two years now, when MCSG found what was initially $175,000 of excess student activity fees. That number was eventually finalized at $50,000 last semester.

After receiving and putting to a vote proposals from community members for rollover-funded campus projects, MCSG will facilitate the installation of the winning project—an ice rink on Shaw Field—in the coming months. The project will be spearheaded and managed by the Ice Rink Committee (IRC), led by Kai Wilson ’14 and Jesse Horwitz ’13. Financing the project through last year’s rollover is MCSG’s sole means of involvement.

Over the past five years Macalester has accrued an average of $80,000 a year in student activity fee surplus. Though MCSG continues to track student organization spending so as to decrease, if not diminish this number, the FAC felt that passing this bill would secure a long term but flexible solution to the problem.

“It’s upsetting for students when they see that they’re getting denied funds, but meanwhile there’s this huge pot of money and I just don’t think that’s very fair,” Hamilton said. “This is a way to solve it.”