Although many groups have been denied requests for more funding, a recent GUSA audit shows that more than $800,000 of unspent funds for student clubs remains unused in university reserve accounts.

The extra funds are sitting in the reserve accounts of six advisory boards – the Student Activities Commission, Georgetown Programming Board, the Media Advisory Board, Performing Arts Advisory Council, Center for Social Justice and the Advisory Board for Club Sports. The accounts are meant to cover losses in the event that a student organization it funds runs a deficit.

As of February, SAC had $250,006 in reserve funds, the largest amount of the six boards. The media board had the second-largest balance with $220,000. Club sports held the smallest balance with only $15,441.

any club leaders have been looking for increased funding from their respective boards in the past years while $800,000 has accumulated in reserves without being allocated for use.

Eden Schiffmann (COL ’08), speaker of the student association’s senate and former member of THE HOYA’s Editorial Board, acknowledged that there is a problem with this relatively high amount of reserves.

“A lot of money is just sitting around, and it can do a lot of good,” Schiffmann said. “It is our firm belief that this amount of money should not be allowed to sit in these accounts.”

The GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee plans to meet with the six advisory boards next Wednesday to develop a budget to appropriate funds to the boards for the upcoming academic year.

Erika Cohen-Derr, director of student programs said that the meeting will center around developing a strategy that addresses the reserve fund balances. “Everybody knows this is a high priority to address,” she said.

“The senate will not pass any budget without solving the reserve funds,” Schiffmann said. “The number-one issue is to make sure student finances are on track.”

According to Cohen-Derr, there are a number of reasons contributing to the high reserve funds.

“It’s just the reality of budgeting,” she said. “If organizations are not coming up with programs deemed worthy of funds, then a funding board might not allocate the money.”

Sometimes boards allocate money to a certain event, but if the event never takes place, the allocated money is returned, Cohen-Derr said.

Schiffmann said the Finance and Appropriations Committee has requested that each of the six boards complete a proposal in their funding application, to be turned in during Wednesday’s meeting, explaining whether their respective board should or should not spend their reserves.

Although SAC Chair Sophia Behnia (COL ’09) acknowledged that SAC did dip into its reserve fund to take out $20,000 this year after over-allocating funds, she said that the commission hopes to spend more of its reserve funds this year. “We do need to work to spend it down,” she said.

SAC plans to spend some reserve money remodeling SAC’s Leavey Center offices, she said, as well as building more storage for different SAC programs.

But other advisory board chairpersons indicated their intention to grow their reserves.

Jackie Mendez (SFS ’09), who serves as GPB chair, said that their $47,509 reserve account balance is necessary in case of emergencies.

“Costs are rising, so GPB needs more money to catch up,” she said, indicating that hosting a concert currently costs at least $50,000. “We definitely hope to get more [money],” she said.

The Advisory Board for Club Sports has been running short on funding, according to Chairman-Elect Nick Calta (COL ’10). As the youngest board, created in 2003, it has $15,441 in a reserve account. Schiffmann said that GUSA has tripled the funding for club sports.

“We are always close to running a deficit,” Calta said.

This is not, however, the first year that the different boards have accumulated large reserve funds. In 2004, SAC had more than $180,000, and it continued to grow over the next couple of years.

At the end of the 2006-2007 school year, SAC deposited $39,318 into their reserve account. In 2004, the media board also had more than $100,000 sitting in reserve.

“This issue comes up from year to year,” Cohen-Derr said. “This is the first year we are dedicating more to this problem.”

After the student body voted to pass the Accountability and Reform Amendment in October 2006, GUSA was given full audit and control powers over the Finance and Appropriations Committee.

GUSA has been considering a number of solutions to reducing the size of the reserve funds. Schiffmann said that some ideas include having a central reserve for all six of the boards or even putting money in the underperforming student activities endowment.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but everyone agrees something has to be done,” he said.

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