Harit Agrawala focuses on public understanding of JFC
Money is always a contentious issue. Nearly every individual with an income knows the bittersweet experience of getting a paycheck, only to have a portion of their earnings whisked away to God-knows-where. Without knowing what this money goes to, or whom it helps, they might even become resentful of the organization which takes their money.
Student Body Vice President of Finance (SBVPF) hopeful and sophomore statistics major Harit Agrawala, is acutely aware of this problem. A central component of his platform for this coming year is to remedy this lack of communication between the Joint Funding Committee (JFC) and all 300+ organizations whose funding it oversees. His plan comes in three parts. Agrawala would like first and foremost to raise awareness among students about the JFC and what it actually does; second, he aims to raise monetary transparency within the organization and to increase communication between the JFC and the organizations for which it works; and finally, Agrawala wants to foster these relationships and to eliminate the annual stress which organizations face when considering the amount of funding they will receive from the JFC.
Agrawala’s first platform point is to raise awareness about the JFC and to expand its members. One of the biggest examples of how an increased awareness would help the student body is allowing students to better understand how their activities fee is distributed. “There’s a common misconception,” Agrawala said, “that it all goes to the Activities Board.” In reality, the money raised from every student’s activities fee — about $1.25 million, according to Agrawala — is collected by the JFC and distributed among the 300 organizations whose funding the JFC oversees. Agrawala also believes that the JFC could benefit from increased membership. The Joint Funding Committee is largely a place for students with a vested interest in finance to meaningfully impact their campus community, and it’s rather unfortunate that so few people are aware of it.
His second platform point is to remedy the communication problems which often arise between the JFC and the organizations with which it works. By communicating with organizations and keeping this open dialogue, Agrawala believes that the JFC can better understand what the organizations need and what they do, and the JFC can better meet their needs. One of the ways he intends to make this happen is by “being able to provide them with financial advice, if they need that. Should an organization not have that, we would be available,” Agrawala said.
The third way in which Agrawala would like to improve relations between the JFC and organizations is to eliminate the stress organizations feel over their budget situations for the following year.
In the past, the JFC would allow organizations to keep their income, but adjust their budgets accordingly for the coming year. In Harit’s plan, each organization would be able to keep 20 percent of its annual income, with the rest coming back to the JFC to be allocated all of the organizations. The goal is to “redistribute [the funds] to organizations who are in debt or those who are looking to start up.” This plan “gives the JFC any cash that organizations are making in surplus.” One of the biggest issues experienced by the JFC in terms of creating budgets for the following years is that “organizations choose to hide the profits they’re getting” because they’re often afraid that if they report too much funding, the JFC will give them a decreased budget. Also, the current system “makes organizations spend most of the time of fundraising rather than focusing on the goal of what the organization is,” since they apparently feel like they’re on their own in terms of funding.
With this system, funding would be dependable for all organizations and available to the many smaller organizations that don’t have quite the same pull as many of the larger ones. This also ensures that organizations can keep 20 percent of their total profits and continue to grow through their own efforts.