CC budget flap exposes need for elections change

When College Council (CC), whose primary responsibility is to manage the allocation of the student activity fee, can unknowingly spend its entire budget for the current school year and still have six weeks worth of student activities to fund, something is very wrong. Before spring break, CC thought it had $17,000 that it could use to fund student activities. As of this week, CC is about $500 in the red. How – even if – end of the year funding requests will be filled are, of course, the urgent questions at hand. However, just as valid, and even more important, are the following questions: how could such a mistake have been made under the current CC funding system, and what should be done so that a similar mistake never happens again? CC is currently in debt because several allocations made before spring break amounting to more than $3,000, and the funding for the DA and the CC Shuttle Service, allocated at the beginning of the school year, were overlooked and did not get calculated into the budget. Such poor record keeping would be problematic for any major funding body, but CC’s mistaken record keeping is made more serious because of a flaw in the way in which CC changes officers.

The new CC officers take office after spring break. While an essentially new council is allocating funds, it is still operating under the previous council’s budget. Under such a system, there is too much room for a lack communication between the old council and the new council, and as can be seen from this year, overspending and misallocation of funds are the possible results. In order to address this problem CC officers should begin their terms at the beginning of the academic year when CC receives its funding from the Student Activities Tax. The officers could formulate a budget – so that they would be fully aware of all its component parts – and then be responsible for its allocation throughout the rest of the year.

With the current election system and timetable, there just is not enough of an institutionalized transition time between CC administrations. As is the case with many other student organizations, CC bylaws should afford for a transition period when the officers-elect serve under the sitting officers so that they can learn the job that they will have to perform. Having the officers elected in March serve as officers-elect for the remainder of the school year would also eliminate the need to have seniors vote in CC elections. Currently seniors vote for representatives only a few months before they graduate, which has always seemed a bit questionable given that the incoming presidents represent them for only about two months.

With this new system, the officers could make a much smoother transition and student groups would not need to deal with officers who are essentially dropped into the midst of the current administration. The current system is difficult for those with substantial CC experience to deal with, but is nearly impossible for those who arrive unfamiliar with the system. It comes down to financial accountability and simplicity: having the terms of officers coincide with CC’s budget could help eliminate the notorious “rollover” which makes accounting at CC more and more difficult every year. It would make an unnecessarily arcane process more direct and functional. At this point in the school year the CC officers should be learning to operate the system, which they will control next year. They should not be left to deal with the last administration’s budget and the considerable setbacks stemming from its mishandling.