A month after imposing a moratorium on funding for new student groups, the Student Activities Council passed an updated debt policy at its general body meeting Thursday evening.
The new policy, which passed by an overwhelming majority without an official vote count, will not only impose deeper budget cuts on groups in debt, but also apply administrative penalties, such as forcing groups to have their SAC liaison co-sign reimbursements, to more groups.
Groups with debt carried over from the previous year will also no longer be able to apply for contingency funding, or apply for re-recognition if they become de-recognized. Finally, groups that increase their debt for two consecutive years will be de-recognized.
“At the last GBM, there was a lot of talk about why the penalties aren’t harsher, why so many groups are in debt,” College senior and SAC Chair Melissa Roberts said. “It was good that we had a debt plan, but judging by the fact that we had over 40 groups in debt at the beginning of the year, it obviously wasn’t a good enough deterrent.”
According to Roberts, debt held by the 48 groups totaled $39,000. As of Thursday’s GBM, $13,000 had been repaid. Groups that are still in debt will now start receiving monthly email reminders.
“Obviously the intention is to never have groups go into debt in the first place, but given the situation, we’re making progress,” Roberts said.
The student group representatives at the GBM had mostly positive reactions to the new policy.
While Wharton junior and Japanese Student Association Vice President of Finance Aya Hiraoka said the new policy might be unfair to student groups — specifically, student publications — that do not take in a revenue until after SAC’s budgeting process ends, she is generally in favor of the more stringent punishments.
“Overall I think it’s a good policy,” she said. “It will help people actually care about not getting in debt.”
Wharton junior and Engineers Without Borders Treasurer Liang Deng said the fact that SAC needs to impose harsher penalties reflects a larger issue.
“This, along with the moratorium raised last meeting, really portrays the idea that SAC might be running out of money themselves,” Deng said. “That by itself is more troubling than the fact that they’re being really strict.”
Roberts stressed that while she hopes the new policy will encourage groups to maintain fiscal responsibility and save all groups money, the moratorium on new group funding imposed in September will remain in place.
“Hopefully it will help bring us to a stage where we don’t need a moratorium, but we’re not there yet,” she said.
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