With the spring quickly coming to an end, our infamously long Monday Financial Board meetings are no more. Nevertheless, we worked hard; consequently, programs we funded are still being put on by students for students. This makes students’ experiences golden here at UCSB. Associated Students Finance Board took on a great role this year as we faced many challenges and criticisms from many fronts. The most commonly heard criticisms: “They [ASFB] cannot budget,” or “They are fiscally irresponsible.” I would like to demystify those notions by saying yes, we can budget and, additionally, we are very fiscally responsible.
We, the leadership of the board, would like to shed light on the fact that this campus department is not in debt. Whereas other campus entities are thousands of hundreds of dollars in the hole, we pride ourselves on being responsible with your money. The credit should be given to our institutionalized policies that make it virtually impossible to ever spend more than we actually have. Additionally, our checks within the organization are very safe. A.S. is one of the few campus departments that receives an annual external audit. Our hard-working accountants make sure that no money is given out without ASFB approval. When money is given out, a receipt that proves the purchase of what ASFB approved is required.
We knew what we funded because we spent endless hours asking detailed questions before we decided to fund anything. And if we could not find the answers to these questions, our liaison system gave us the opportunity to investigate further before going into allocations. This system increased communication and brought accountability to the board. Rarely did past Finance Boards utilize this method of communication between the board and individual student groups.
Not only do we pride ourselves on the responsible way we handle your money, but we are also proud of our hard work. This board consisted of a very hard-working group of individuals. Many, if not all, missed their dinner every Monday, and at times homework came second, while this board placed students first. We did this because we wanted to hear out all student organizations and carefully examine all requests to accurately allocate funds based on our financial policies. At times the leadership of the board needed to reorganize the agenda so that it reflected our funding priorities. This only extended the length of the meetings.
Alongside our hard work, we noticed our pool of funds drying up a while back, but students still came requesting funds. At some meetings the total requested amount was $500,000. Why? Well, it could have been because of the increased awareness of A.S.’s financial help, or other university funding bodies that changed their policies to fund students less, or there had been an increase in student programming, or all of the above. Despite the fact that the board had virtually no funds at the end of the year, we still advocated funding for student organizations within and outside the association. This act is one that no other campus departments do.
Other challenges we faced were because of some of our very own policies. The Students’ Initiative generated a huge increase in revenue; consequently, student services and programs increased also. Last year’s board also institutionalized policies, but they were implemented to fulfill the promises the association made to its members. Additionally, last year’s ASFB set a precedent that no other board shall ever meet. They had over $1,000,000 to give back to the students, thus they weren’t in a position to see possible new financial policies to control spending. However, this year’s ASFB was in that position, and we were the pilot year for it. We saw the weak spots and fixed them. Not only did we set several funding caps, but we also took control of the one-time exception policy so it would be used more responsibly by future boards. In addition, we noticed the one-time exception was being used continuously in order to override the food cap, so we aimed to decrease the use of the policy by increasing the food cap from $500 to $1,000.
Although next year’s ASFB positions are filled up, we encourage you to be part of this association. Knowing the ins and outs of the organization not only provides you the opportunity to improve your colleagues’ experiences and the greater community, but also teaches you of the belts and levers of your student government. That being said, we thank you for letting us service you.