Currently, students must obtain an invoice from the company in question, and then submit it with a check request. Only a privileged few can make large purchases for their organization and then await reimbursement, and even this is unreasonable. This leaves clubs at the mercy of the BC, which may take several weeks or even months to send off the funds. Companies are left wondering when they’ll be paid, and clubs get an awful consumer reputation.
The sailing team faces similar cases on a semesterly basis because we must often replace worn out parts. Last year, it took us six months to resolve a debt with one of our suppliers, and often it took a lot of personal effort to ensure that the BC sent off our checks. As the officer in charge of boat maintenance, I have dealt with these oversights too often, and have made too many apologetic phone calls to baffled suppliers. We can’t be the only club that has experienced such difficulties.
Clubs should be given financial independence from the slow and malfunctioning AAS by means of bank accounts, established by the school for each organization. The semester’s budget would then be deposited into the account, and students could withdraw the necessary funds. Misuse could be prevented by means of either a dual signature system, or a series of annual or semesterly audits. Under the former system, each club would be assigned a representative on the BC who would sign off on all checks over a certain amount. Writing and sending the checks would be the responsibility of the club treasurer, instead of the AAS.
Semesterly audits, however, would allow the greatest amount of decentralization and efficiency for club financial operations. Clubs would submit budgets and receive money for specified projects, but would be presented with a check book and a bank account instead of a number. Treasurers would sign a pledge stating responsibility for the money allocated to their organization, and would have to submit an account of each payment made. Any discrepancies would be investigated and prosecuted by the disciplinary committee. This system has worked for years at other colleges around the country.
Students are capable of managing their own expenses far more efficiently than the BC, and should be given the chance to do so. The AAS must decentralize the budget process to allow clubs to independently control the flow of cash related to their operation. If the AAS is truly committed to upholding extracurricular organizations, it should look at how their present financial system hampers growth of this vital sector of academic life at the College.