Interview with Kevin O’Leary and Patrick Zhu, both of whom have been members of IIT Student Finance Board (FB) since April 2009. This is a follow-up interview to the interview with another Finance Board member which was published in the last TechNews issue of the Fall 09 semester.
How long do you plan to stay with Finance Board?
Pat: Until I graduatre at the end of this semester. Kevin: Until I graduate in 2011.
How many people are currently on the board?
Nine people, plus the chairman. All of them are students. As it says on the FB website at http://sga.iit.edu/fb/ the ten people are Chairman Laolu Adeola, and board members Sweta Gurnani, Muyiwa Jimi-Salami, Patrick Zhu, Kevin O’Leary, Kirsten Love, Parth Kapadia, Natalie Mitrovic, Bernie Mendez, and Miriam Schmid. There are four ppl on FB right now that haven’t been student org leaders before joining the board. They show promise and motivation to do the job. Coming into FB as a student org leader is a “double-edged thing” because although student org leaders know both sides of the issue of finances, they also come in with a bias of perspective. Bringing a freshman into FB can be good because of the fresh perspective. Also, it breaks the continuity of pre-held grudges and stereotypes that the members of FB may not even know that they were holding.
What do you think of using SAF money for sending IIT students to conferences?
Pat says that it’s been a “long-debated subject,” and that while it’s helpful to send people to conferences, sometimes the students don’t come back with useful information to share. However, when it works, it works well. The ideal is to have an organization send different members every time, but FB can’t control that.
What do you do with the follow-up budgets?
Pat says that the follow-up budgets (FUBs) have always been around, but in September of 2009, FB started enforcing them The purpose of FUBs is to make sure that the money is used as the group poriginally presented a plan to use it. The FUB is a type of evaluation for an organization. At the next proposal hearing, the FUB is part of the metric used to determine whether a particular group is reliable and manages their money well. Last semester was a kind of grace period- “if you screwed up on it [the FUB], we didn’t drop the hammer” but this time all the requirements on the FB flyers should be taken at face value.
When is the next round of proposals?
Hearings will be on February 6, and budgets will be due at midnight on January 31st. (Budgets are due one week before the hearing.) Decision letters will be complete and delivered via email to the organization’s official email account on the Thursday after the hearing. All hearings are scheduled and held according to SGA bylaws (available at http://sga.studgov.com/assets/09-10-21_SGA_Bylaws.pdf).
Before being allowed to apply, memnbers of every student organization must attend one workshop (which is offered several times at various times of the day) before the application deadline. These workshops are run by Kevin, and is intended to walk student leaders through the process. This requirement must be renewed every semester. The worlkshops required by Student Activities are different and not controlled by FB. All FB workshops will be held in the MTCC Auditorium, and will last roughly 30 minutes. The times when the FB workshop is offered are: Wednesday, Jan 20
12:50, Thursday, Jan 21 12:50, Thursday, Jan 21
5:00, Friday, Jan 22 12:50, Monday, Jan 25
12:50, Monday, Jan 25 7:00, Tuesday, Jan 26
8:00, and Wednesday, Jan 26 12:50.
Are there groups that Finance Board dislikes?
“No.” chorused Pat and Kevin immediately. They went on to say that FB does not discriminate. Members of FB look at facts, like workshop attendance, signature sheets, and properly filled out applications.
How are Finance Board guidelines changed?
The guidelines are written and available at http://sga.iit.edu/fb/docs/FB_Guidelines_10_09.pdf and they can be changed at any time by a majority vote of the members of FB. The advisor for the Board has input, but not a veto. The guidelines are different from the bylaws, which were mentioned earlier. Bylaws are goals; guidelines are procedural.
Who maintains the website? Up until this semester, laolu. Now, Bernie is taking over.
How are people chosen for Finance Board?
First, anyone can be nominated to the FB selection committee, which is made up of the current FB plus anyone who is nominated. Then the committee holds a group interview with the candidates, picks some subset of them and presents the subset as a list to the Senate. The Senate confirms or denies the entire list. If the list is denied, the committee must change the list and re-present it to the Senate until it is acceptable. When the Senate says yes, the new members of FB are considered finalized. This, Pat and Kevin agree, takes about two months (because the Senate only meets every two weeks) and is a tedious process which could use some streamlining.
Has Finance Board ever had a surfeit of money?
Yes, although we’re not certain by how much. Funding is not cut unless the proposal is ruled out by the bylaws or guidelines or errors in the application procedure.
How do you make unbiased decisions?
They use the guidelines and bylaws. If there’s a conflict of interest, a FB member can step out, and this does sometimes happen, especially when the FB member is also an exec member of the organization whose funding request is being evaluated.
Has any FB member ever been removed from FB?
Yes. The only member that has been removed through a vote is the member who was previously interviewed by TechNews. The removal was primarily because of low attendance at mandatory events like the first major hearing of the Fall 2009 semester, at least one of the mandatory biweekly meetings, the begining of semester required working retreat, and a lack of attempts to catch up on current procedure after it had been updated at the aforementioned meetings.
How many proposals does Finance Board get?
Most recently, FB got 150 event proposals last November from 40-50 student organizations.
How much money does Finance Board have to distribute?
The Student Activities Fund gets about 250,000 per semester from the $75/student fee that is part of the tuition of full-timeIIT students.
What’s the deal with food?
In general, only events which require food to be successful are given money for food, because otherwise the finds could be used to add more variety to the student experience. Food during long meetings is also the only form of compensation that FB receives.
Why do you feel that a lot of ppl hate Finance Board?
Because they have the image that FB tries to take away their money, or tries to deny them what they want from the SAF. But that’s not true. “We’re always there to help you,” said Pat.
How is the chariman of Finance Board selected?
In the SGA exec board elections in the Spring of ever year.
Is there anything else that you want to tell me?