LB discusses financial code, outreach

LB discusses financial code, outreach

Ellen McRae, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, April 5, the Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) met to discuss student organization budgeting, updates to the financial code and MCSG community outreach. 

Representatives from the newly created Pool Club presented their charter to be voted on for official approval. After hearing high levels of interest for more organized play, Pool Club was created as an official club to build upon the existing pool community. The club plans to gather around the pool tables in the Loch, hosting learning sessions, informal play and tournaments. The charter passed unanimously. 

The Legislative Body (LB) also unanimously approved an additional allocation request for Filipino Association at Mac (FAM) and a Budget Bonanza appeal for Macalester Martial Arts Club (MMAC). 

With the end of the Budget Bonanza, the Financial Affairs Committee (FAC) now turns its attention toward the financial code. According to FAC Chair Rebecca Gentry ’23, the FAC is currently in the annual process of reviewing the financial code, tackling the “nitty gritty” rules that govern the allocation of the student activity fee for on-campus organizations. The FAC will soon present these revisions to the LB for further review and a subsequent vote. 

Gentry gave a primer of the financial code and potential changes, emphasizing the need to conserve funds when possible in order to ensure a healthy balance sheet.

Within the current financial code, MCSG manages five accounts: the Operating Fund, the Capital Fund, the Reserve Fund, and the Travel Fund. The student activity fee goes partially to these accounts and partially to external funds, such as Program Board. Any previously allocated money unspent by student organizations at the end of the academic year rolls back into the MCSG fund to be reallocated accordingly. 

This year, Gentry stated that the FAC wants to call specific attention to the Reserve Fund, which they try to keep at $20,000 every year. For the first time in 10 years, they recently had to make a withdrawal from the reserves to correct a financial misunderstanding with the literary magazine Chanter

Gentry also outlined some of the reasons student organizations are so strongly encouraged to minimize spending, despite rollover funds from previous years. She explained that even though MCSG has access to rollover funds, the FAC is unable to estimate or count on this leftover money. Additionally, the funds from the student activity fee vary depending on the number of students enrolled, which also makes it hard to plan ahead with specific figures in mind. 

Student organization budgets are also evaluated and limited to a high degree to ensure that cultural and religious student organizations are always granted necessary funding for culturally specific food and activities. Furthermore, student organizations are encouraged to use “block budgeting” for more discretion and flexibility with their budget, wherein organizations can deviate from previously specified spending as long as it draws from the same fund.

After, sophomore representative Bobbie Pennington ’24 and Vice President and Student Services & Relations Chair Jordanella Maluka ’23 brought a budget appeal to the LB after receiving less funding than desired by the FAC during the Budget Bonanza. MCSG members originally requested funding for a fall retreat, spring retreat and LB forum, which would happen in both the fall and spring semesters. However, the FAC denied a large amount of their requested funds, calling for greater specification and a more modest budget proposal. 

After considering FAC feedback, the LB voted to allocate additional funding for both the fall retreat, spring retreat and capital fund. Strikingly, in the only motion of the night that did not pass, with 6 votes to approve, 12 votes to oppose and 0 abstaining, MCSG members voted against approving the appealed $600 for the LB forum, instead settling for $200. 

Finally, MCSG members discussed the recent candidates debate, which occurred that evening before the LB meeting, and reflected on MCSG outreach efforts. Community Engagement Officer Ayana Smith-Kooiman ’22 pointed to challenges in getting students to file to run for MCSG positions, as well as the lack of current members who plan to return to MCSG next year. 

Criticism of the lack of MCSG outreach at the candidates debate sparked conversation within the LB about ways to improve transparency and engagement with the greater Macalester community. 

“I want to expand how many people fall under [an outreach] role with a clear strategy of how MCSG engages people,” Smith-Kooiman said, citing the need for “people power.”

The meeting ended with announcements, including MCSG President Shreya Nagdev ’22 reminding members to vote in the upcoming MCSG representative and officer elections. 

[email protected]