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Calling for Transparency in club Appropriations

With all due respect to Arts & Entertainment editor Aaron Calvin's reporting and his article in last week's issue of The Chronicle (Show Me The Money, A3) there are a number of budgeting issues with Hofstra's student government that remain unanswered.

The largest of which is the appropriation committee's reasoning behind assigning specific budgets to each club.

When The Chronicle requested a budget of $51,758.27 for this school year, we filed the proper paperwork, documenting each specific item, down to the office supplies and abiding by every SGA protocol involving minute details.

We are not sure why the appropriations committee cannot trust our estimate that four thumb drives will cost $48. Why must we print out quotes from Office Depot, Walmart and Buy.com, as we did, to prove we were getting the best price?

But that's not the issue.

The issue is not that SGA and their appropriations committees do not trust its clubs, the issue is that the budget proposal requires minute details down to how much office supplies cost, but they cannot return the detail in explaining their decision.

Isn't it much easier for SGA to quickly dismiss any budget proposal if they do not have to explain why they did so?

Often in journalism classes, we discuss that the newspaper's job is to be the government's watchdog, so today, we, The Chronicle, ask SGA for a reason as to why they will not share the details behind their budget decisions.

They are very nice to allow an appeal and then further appropriations each month, but club leaders have not a clue as to what basis to appeal on.

For example, The Chronicle asked for $44,200 to cover our printing costs for the entire academic year. We were assigned $22,100, exactly half. Instead of just writing "printing - $22,100" in a response email, an explanation as to why only half of the year was paid for would be nice.

The solution?

Allow club leaders to sit in on the original allocation meeting. Instead of complaining that it takes forever and you do what you can, spread the meeting out over a long weekend and assign each club a 15-minute slot. The club leader should be allowed to sit in, hear the reasoning behind their new budget, but not comment.

That way, the club has a basis for their appeal and does not enter appropriations or an appeal completely lost.

SGA president David Zuniga has promised multiple times over that transparency and responsibility within SGA are important to him.

Act on that then, and Zuniga and the SGA appropriations committee should provide reasoning behind their decisions and transparency into the process. It's our student activity fee, we should see the reason it's divided as such.

Great Writers, Great Readings: Alice McDermott

Freshman Dos and Don'ts