New Activities policies will improve efficiency

One of the greatest aspects of Carnegie Mellon is the strong role students play in determining the allocation of the student activities fee. The fact that we ask a small group of students to distribute over a million dollars a year, which in turn is entrusted to the care of hundreds of student organization leaders, shows strong faith in the student body on the part of the administration.

Still, the system can only be sustained with a combination of strong organizational advising and financial oversight. For a long time, Student Activities has struggled to maintain the finances of the nearly 300 organizations it oversees. For most organizations, this has meant a back-up on a reimbursement or wondering when a couple checks will clear. For the handful of student organizations with six-figure budgets, however, delays can harm relationships with external vendors and cause mistrust of Carnegie Mellon.

We are extremely excited to see that Student Activities has tackled this problem on two fronts. First, by hiring a part-time financial assistant, the department will be able to process student business faster and more efficiently. More importantly — for large organizations as well as small ones — additional financial advising will help alleviate problems before they begin by helping student organization leaders learn better business practices.

Second, and partly as a result of a recent university-wide audit, Student Activities has introduced a more comprehensive system of record keeping that requires updated expense request forms, stronger oversight over Tartan Trust card use, and a single-signer policy, which requires organizations to have one dedicated member who signs off on all expenses.

While some may interpret the stricter policies and additional paperwork as an affront to the independence of student organizations, we hope these new policies, combined with stronger financial assistance from Student Activities staff, will allow student organizations to keep a tighter leash on their budgets, clearing the way for a more efficient allocation of the student activities fee.