Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Fowler: Changes to SGA expenditure reporting could hurt transparency

As it stands, the Student Government Association’s Code of Laws requires that each expenditure of SGA funds be published in a permanent, public and weekly record.

Two bills authored by Christian Smith, an SGA Senator for the College of Commerce and Business Administration, propose to amend the language of the Code of Laws so that only expenditures in excess of $500 are recorded on a monthly basis.

SGA President James Fowler convened with fellow SGA members Wednesday evening in the SGA Board Room to discuss the implications of Smith’s legislation.

Fowler said the bills bear a direct relationship to his administration’s campaign for transparency.

“These are two bills that can really play an impact in the message of transparency,” he said. “We need to look through these and make them bills that help to achieve that goal.”

Recording of expenditures per week cannot be carried out, Fowler said, because the Office of Student Affairs reports the financial and accounting data pertaining to SGA funds on a monthly and not weekly basis.

To demonstrate the impracticality of weekly record-making, Fowler passed out a letter from Molly Lawrence, associate vice president of student affairs, that reads, “Monthly financial reporting is the UA standard reporting cycle. Weekly reporting is burdensome and will not provide any additional information. At the present time we are not staffed to provide weekly financial reporting.”

Fowler said reporting expenditures weekly isn’t feasible, and the beauty of the legislative process is that it necessitates discussion to reach a balanced consensus when legislation is passed.

He said the suggestion to amend the recording of expenditures in excess of $500 could only detract from the SGA’s goal of transparency.

“If we stick with $500, we may not reach the transparency mark we have been talking about,” he said. “We need to really investigate if this $500 is where we want to be.”

Fowler said he preferred 100 percent transparency pertaining to the spending of SGA funds.

However, he said, he wants the students to make the decision.

“Who’s to say it’s important?” he said. “Let’s let the students decide that.”

Mark-David Kennedy, SGA treasurer, said the suggested switch from weekly to monthly recording is a result of trial-and-error.

“The reason that we wanted to have it changed is because the accounting office [under the Office of Student Affairs] only reports on a monthly basis,” he said.

David Simpson, SGA Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, said the communication between the executive and legislative branches was a sign of a healthy relationship between the branches.

“Tonight’s meeting was good in showing the collaboration between the different branches in the SGA,” he said.

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