Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Here is the first of what I hope will be many columns aimed at demystifying the SBC and the funding process. The column is written with the entire student body in mind, and is intended to include information that is useful for everyone. Having said that, these columns will probably be most useful for treasurers and first years who might not yet be familiar with the (often confusing, and, yes, at times frustrating) ways of the SBC.
So today’s million-dollar question is: What and who is the SBC, and what does it do? Oh, and what is the SAF or SAA?
The Student Budget Committee (SBC) is a group of seven students appointed by Student Council, plus the Student Groups Advisor, who serves on both SBC and Student Council. Vacancies on the SBC arise virtually every semester, so if you’re interested in being on the
Committee, look for an email towards the end of the semester. These eight students oversee the distribution and allocation of the Student Activities Fee (SAF). Every semester a small portion of your tuition includes a fee that funds student activities (hence the name). This fee covers the cost of student groups, movie showings, parties, and all the other fun and great things you beautiful people do when you’re not pulling all-nighters.
The amount of the fee changes (read: increases) every year on the recommendation of the Committee. This year it was $350. For those among you who are skeptics (and this being Swarthmore, I’m sure that’s a lot of you), take a look here: http://www.swarthmore.edu/cc_expenses.xml. There, last but not least, is the SAF. And what about the SAA, you ask? The SAA is the Student Activities Account. Really it’s the same thing as the SAF, except that instead of being a “fee” per-se, it’s the account (think bank account) that holds the money collected from the SAF. It’s quite a technical distinction if you think about it, but because confusion over it arises fairly often it’s not a bad thing to know.
But right now you’re probably thinking to yourself, Hey, that’s a lot of money. It is, but there are also a lot of groups on campus: there are well over one hundred chartered groups on campus, and at least one hundred of them are active and have budgets for the year. These groups include everything from Amnesty International and WSRN, to Olde Club and the SAC.
In addition, we fund some things you might not expect, such as some of the Shuttle Services or the LSE (Large Scale Events). So when all is said and done, that $350 multiplied by however many there are of you goes away pretty quickly. Hopefully you also realize that all this money needs to be managed and spent responsibly, and in accordance with federal, state, and local laws. And let’s not forget in accordance with College policy.
Well, that’s where the SBC Office and its staff come in. Alongside the eight students appointed by Student Council, four other students are hired to manage and help student group treasurers access these funds. Who are those four, lucky student-employees? One student is the Manager (yours truly). The remaining three are Assistant Managers, who support the Manager in the SBC Office tasks. Legend has it that our office exists in a dark and scary abyss, accessible only once every thousand years through a portal to another dimension.
Actually, it’s above Essie Mae’s (Clothier 213). But because no student in his or her right mind would ever explore the area above Essie Mae’s, rumors start up, and people end up being uncertain of where our office is.
Let’s recap: the SBC is composed of the Student Groups Advisor and 7 other students appointed by Student Council to oversee the distribution and use of the SAF (Student Activities Fee). Additionally, 4 more students are hired as SBC employees to manage the funds and ensure that they are spent in accordance with SBC rules. Our office is in Clothier 213, above Essie Mae’s, in the very back of the building. We are open three days a week, every week that classes are in session. Office hours for the Fall ’09 semester are Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (think of it as SWaT) from 7:00 to 9:00pm.
For your reference, here is a list of the Committee members for the Fall ’09 semester, as well as the SBC Office staff.
Committee Members Fall ’09:
Alan Zhao ‘12
Ben Francis ’12 (Student Groups Advisor)
Debbie Ngyuen ‘11
Ellen Donnelly ‘10
Kim St. Julian ‘12
Maithili Parikh ‘10
Romane Paul ‘10
Shiv Bhandari ‘12
SBC Office Staff Fall ’09:
Simon Nin Zhu ‘11 (Manager)
Adriana Popa ‘12
Haichao Wu ‘12
Tuan (David) Dung Mai ‘11
So now you know who/what the SBC is, you know about the SAF (and the SAA), and you know what the SBC and the SBC Office do. But now, presuming I’ve actually managed to capture your attention for so long, you’re wondering, “Well, how does all this happen?” Tune in (log in?) next time to learn about Spring Budgeting and the exciting SBC weekly meetings, when all this money is distributed and allocated.
In the meantime, please feel free to send me all your questions or concerns to email@example.com. If you would like me to write about a specific topic or question, don’t hesitate to ask!
Simon Nin Zhu ‘11