Student Government Association hopes to overcome financial issues

Brooke Reilly

SGA has had a plethora of finance issues since the end of the spring 2019 semester. Barbora Hriňáková was elected to be the new Student Government Association Vice President for Finance last week. She is working with Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Campus Life and SGA Advisor Matt Kurz to overcome issues, including a frozen credit card and reimbursing students.

Hriňáková ran for the position after previous SGA Vice President for Finance Glenn Adams announced he would be resigning from the position on Oct. 30.

“I was always interested in the finance field, and this year, I got put into the finance committee,”  Hriňáková said. “I really enjoy it because I feel like when you have numbers… It makes sense to understand.”

Adams faced many issues due to reimbursements and payments that were not made from the 2018-2019 academic year. He had to deal with what was left undone by previous Vice President for Finance John Killah, as well as continue to allow organizations to make purchases, so he could eventually reimburse them.

The job became too much and Adams decided to step down due to the amount of work that this position required on top of his school work.

Although I have continually put in as much effort as possible, and strive to serve every student as best I can, I am afraid that due to the immense amount of work necessary to adequately serve the student body, and a strong need to refocus on my education, that it has not been enough.”

— Adams said to the general SGA board when he stepped down from his position.

Hriňáková hopes to overcome issues that previous Vice Presidents for Finance have faced.

“I’m trying to have good time management skills, just use that as a quality to help that [fixing previous issues] and make sure that I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to,” Hriňáková said.

Just prior to Hriňáková’s appointment to the position, the SGA voted to allocate up to $13,000 to hiring an SGA finance assistant. This person can be a graduate student or a resident of the local community that is interested in assisting the SGA with its finances as a part-time job.

“It’s set up currently mainly as a staff person that will be able to have a credit card that groups will use,” Kurz said. “Instead of undergraduate students managing a credit card that has my name on it, a staff person will have the time and the resources to manage a card with their name on it.”

Kurz said that the Vice President for Finance previously managed SGA’s budget, special appeals, reimbursements, transactions and more. He noted that it is a lot for one undergraduate student to handle on top of school work. 

“When you have a staff member that’s in charge of that [the credit card], they hopefully will be able to just print out the receipts immediately, get it uploaded, clear the card out, and we wouldn’t see any kind of disruptions in the card because there’s different consequences that [you] have as a staff [member] and an undergraduate student,” Kurz said.

Hriňáková believes that the assistant will not only help her and the rest of the SGA, but also student organizations.

“They can do a lot of work and be helpful,” Hriňáková said. “And, especially help students because it’ll [reimbursements and purchases] go faster.”

SGA currently has a budget of approximately $865,000 per year. Kurz said that groups typically only spend about 70 percent of the money that is allocated to them, leaving 30 percent left behind. A portion of this leftover money is what will be used to pay the finance assistant.

The credit card that SGA previously used to make purchases for student organizations is now frozen. Kurz  and Hriňáková are working with the finance office at the university to come up with a plan to handle purchases until the card can be used again and an assistant is hired.

Organizations that have advisors with university credit cards are currently having them make purchases. They can then charge SGA for these purchases. Kurz said that this became too much for the finance office to deal with due to the amount of different account charges.

“We’re trying to look at a combined system to where groups can use their advisors or their departments, who are comfortable using a card and then have our campus life staff login and change the accounts for them so it doesn’t fall on the finance office at the university,” Kurz said. “Another route may be staff within… Someone within campus life spending some time every week doing student credit card purchases.”

Students also have the option of spending their own money and waiting for reimbursements. However, some students say that they have not been reimbursed for purchases made that date back to last semester.

“We had to use our own money for the involvement fair and our movie night,” President of the American Sign Language Club Allison Zuccaro said. “Our advisor tried to help, but since she’s in the art department, funds can only be used for that.”

Alicia Moran, president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA), said that she also hasn’t been reimbursed since August, and the SOTA community service chair has not been reimbursed for purchases that were made back in March.

“We sent Glenn a total of eight emails that we never got answers to,” Moran said. “When he did answer me on Oct. 8, he said my reimbursement would be done the next day and it never was. My advisor even tried reaching out to him, and I’m not sure [if] she ever got a response.”

Kurz said that the finance committee met over Halloween weekend to sort out the reimbursements. Students who haven’t been reimbursed for anything that was more than three weeks ago should email the SGA and CC him.

We are pushing for reimbursements. Finance is working on reimbursements, so they are getting them really quickly, so when someone makes a purchase, we can reimburse it right away.”

— Hriňáková

Hriňáková suggested that students come speak with her if they are having issues with funding for their organizations, so they can figure something out together.

Kurz said that it is important that students remember that “just because the card’s frozen, doesn’t mean your money’s frozen.”

He hopes that students continue to let the SGA and him know how this is affecting them so any issues can be cleared up.

“We’re going to keep on working on trying to fix it within whatever we’re able to do,” Kurz said. “But, you know, unfortunately right now, we don’t have a lot.”