What does the SGA executive treasurer do?

The+Student+Government+Association+in+a+joint+session+meeting+in+February+2020.+

Media: Yongze Wang

The Student Government Association in a joint session meeting in February 2020.

By Chris Van Buskirk

The Student Government Association is the cornerstone of organizational structure for student groups at the college—they decide the policies and funding for most organizations on campus.

With the recent revelation that SGA Executive Treasurer Abigail Semple was found to potentially violate at least two articles of the SGA constitution, students should consider the importance of the role from an informed perspective. The two grounds include Semple’s failure to meet the appropriate qualifications to serve as the executive treasurer and botched SGA election practices that put into question the legitimacy of her spring 2019 win.

For the 2019-2020 academic year, Semple won the position during the highly contentious, non-conventional spring election of 2019—a contest which saw the two top vote-getters dropout before votes were cast.

At its core, SGA works similar to the United States government, albeit much smaller and with less responsibility. The politicians that make up SGA aren’t in charge of students’ healthcare, however, they do work for the students and are subjected to the same principles that guide their federal counterparts. A government by the people, for the people, of the people.

With five branches, SGA’s main source of fiduciary power stems from the Financial Advisory Board headed up by the executive treasurer.

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As the financial czar of SGA, the executive treasurer takes on most the responsibility for managing the $1.2 million in funding the student government received for the 2019-2020 academic year. The funds are gathered via the student activities fee—an $872 yearly fee each student pays as part of tuition that is then allocated to student services, health services, and SGA.

Previous executive treasurers have noted the large workload the position often entails and it’s specific focus student organizations. From the large amount of paperwork and meetings to balancing their duties with financial activism, former treasurer Ian Mandt told The Beacon in spring 2019 that it took him two years to effectively manage the tasks.

“I would like to see candidates focus on their qualifications on that front, first and foremost,” he said in regards to the primary focus of the position.

The executive treasurer facilitates the appeals process and annual budget review process—two major processes that most organizations must go through.

ABR, as its colloquially known among insiders, is the process by which student organizations apply for a yearly spending stipend. Emerson Independent Video might apply for a certain amount to fund their productions whereas one of the many magazines might use their money for printing a product.

Appeals, on the other hand, hark back to kids asking their parents for extra money to spend on movies for the weekend. Student organizations can fill out a form for extra cash that was not budgeted in their yearly request. SGA then draws upon a pool of $225,000—the specific number for the 2019-2020 academic year—to grant to groups. An organization can only have one appeal approved a semester.

For appeals under $5,000, the Financial Advisory Board can approve or deny without pushing it to joint session—the larger voting body in SGA that deals with most legislative matters. The executive treasurer only votes in the case of the tie but does have significant sway in the process.

The treasurer position, in its totality, encompasses a large portion of financial responsibility for student organizations. From moving along reimbursement funds to proposing new legislation, fulfilling payment requests, and balancing budget sheets, the position affects many daily routines among students.