Increased communication with clubs and ASLC treasurer will limit incurring debt in the future
By ANGELICA TRUE
Last year, the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) was about $100,000 in debt.
Now the ASLC is debt free. However, it was not the additional student body fee money from this year’s large freshmen class that got them there.
“ASLC already had a plan to get out of debt,” Student body president Daniela Lopez (’16) said. “The large freshmen class will just allow us to have a larger appeals process for clubs.”
Regardless of debt, the class of 2019 will have some effect on ASLC proceeding affairs.
During the appeals process, which will be occurring either in late September or early to mid-October, clubs will have the opportunity to apply for more funding in addition to the budgets they were allocated the year prior.
For clubs, this year’s appeals process is important, because the budget for the Student Organizations Committee (SOC), the organization that allocates money to clubs, was slashed by $90,000 last year to help cover ASLC’s debt.
ASLC Auditor Bradley Davis (’18) stressed that the debt mounted slowly over a number of years due to a series of miscommunications and small mistakes, which went unnoticed for a long period of time. Davis explained that much of the problem arose due to the differences between the academic and fiscal year.
“The academic year ends in May, but the fiscal year ends in July,” Davis said. “At the end of academic year, the treasurer would get flooded with requests and then when the treasurer graduated or moved on, the business office had no choice but to fill all these requests.”
Often times, these late requests would result in clubs overspending and the ASLC account being overdrawn. Furthermore, many clubs were unaware that they were overspending because WebAdvisor, which displayed their budget balances, was only updated monthly. Regardless, when this overspending occurred year after year, it resulted in a significant amount of debt.
“Last year the business office decided to stop allowing ASLC to distribute funds above the amount currently present within their accounts,” ASLC Advisor Harold McNaron said. “This was something the office had previouly allowed to take place.”
While the Office of Business and Finance may have been justified in their attempt to resolve the debt situation, McNaron noted, “This decision had the effect of making a historical deficit an immediate issue in order for ASLC to honor its commitments to clubs and ASLC branches.”
“The original plan to repay the debt was to use the student body fee money to pay off the debt slowly over time, but the business office did not think that was quick enough,” said Davis.
However, while the ASLC debt situation may have come to a head now, neither Lopez, Davis nor ASLC treasurer Lindokuhle Simelane (’17) believe that the problem will arise in the future.
“We’ll be more cautious about how we’re spending money,” Simelane said. “My vision is to be a financial advisor for clubs. One of my goals is to make sure clubs check in with me if they want to spend more than $500 on one event, so we can make sure that they have the money.”
In addition to better communication between clubs and the ASLC treasurer, ASLC will also be exploring ways to change the ways in which SOC allocates funds, and will be considering different “accounting tricks” to prevent accounts from being overdrawn.
If nothing else, Lopez believes that the debt situation provided a “Critical learning process for students managing money in their clubs and that they need to use it in a way that suits their mission and goals.”