The Student Finance Committee is considering a change to its rules that would place new regulations on student organizations wishing to employ students. The new policy, which aims to free money for other uses, would prevent student organizations from employing students with SFC money unless approved by a new Committee on Student Compensation.
According to the proposal’s author, SFC co-chair and college junior Colin Jones, the proposal will be considered by the SFC and voted on before it begins budget allocations in mid-April. If passed, it is expected that this proposal will take effect within the next two fiscal years.
SFC’s proposed policy comes after a contentious budget allocation process last fall, during which some student organizations, including the Review, threatened to appeal SFC’s initial budget allocations in an attempt to increase their funding. The principal funding source for many student organizations at Oberlin is the student activity fund, which is administered by the SFC in this budget allocation process.
Jones said that the proposal was motivated partially by this link between organizations with payrolls and organizations seeking increases in their budgets.
“[After student organizations appealed for more money] what I began to notice about these groups was that they all had very, very serious amounts of payroll…it seems that pretty much without any regulation, groups have begun to add more wage positions,” Jones said.
Under the proposed policy, all organizations wishing to obtain funding for paid positions will submit a request to the CSC before the SFC’s budget allocation process begins. As written presently, the CSC will be composed of five students, two senators chosen by Student Senate, two students selected by the SFC and the senate-appointed co-chair of the SFC. Jones, however, indicated in an interview with the Review this week that the composition of the committee is still uncertain, and that he would like fewer limitations on how committee members are selected.
Once an organization has submitted a request for paid positions, the CSC would evaluate the request using three standards: the financial need of the student being employed, the time commitment required to hold the position, and whether a position could be held by a volunteer, rather than an employee. This evaluation process would be done every year.
The proposal, according to Jones, is intended to cut unnecessary wage expenses, and allow SFC to spend money elsewhere. SFC co-chair Shibo Xu, a college junior, said that he hopes the policy will allow the SFC to allocate money to more useful things. “[The student activity fund is] a student fund – it’s not really SFC money...Everybody on this campus is paying this amount of money, and so we have to make sure that it is going to a good cause.”
Student senator and College junior Colin Koffel echoed the sentiments of Xu, but stopped short of endorsing the policy outright. “Everyone knows the way that money is allocated among student organizations right now is not ideal. So we need to start looking at how we can allocate money in a different way,” Koffel said.
The proposal, however, has raised concerns from some student organizations. WOBC Station Manager and College junior Willie Thurlow said in an e-mail interview, “This policy is one that I, in my personal situation, cannot support...To give student groups full control of the funds provided is to create a fair working environment for students...To have the College monitor this is to take away a simple freedom of every student at Oberlin College.”
WOBC employs five students using SFC funds and Thurlow argued that the necessity of these students can only be measured accurately by WOBC itself.
“That SFC and the Student Senate think that they can simply vote on this every year is absurd as for the most part it is hard to see, from the outside, the ways that the board of a top rated college radio station function,” Thurlow said. “Managing and running a student radio station is a serious job, and having to wait for a committee who [doesn’t] understand...is ridiculous.”
This year, WOBC received an allocation of over $20,000 from SFC, making its SFC allocation one of the five highest. The Review was also among the top five, receiving an allocation of over $15,000. The Review employs a total of 38 students.
Despite the disagreements, this type of regulation is not unheard of at colleges and universities. Butch Oxedine of the American Student Government Association said that he was wary of policies such as those that SFC is considering, but also called them “common” at other institutions.
Jones said that he expects controversy as student organizations learn about the policy draft, but invited students to give input. “We want to talk to people,” he said.
Xu concurred, “There’s going to be a lot of communication between SFC and Senate, between SFC and the campus, the student body. We want input on this.”