The new Student Association Executive Board, which took office after commencement last spring, has begun enacting initiatives they want to carry out this year. These include possibly obtaining wide distribution of The New York Times on campus, updating the SA’s website and making reimbursements for student groups more efficient.
The SA is the governing body for student-run groups and activities at Binghamton University and is made up of undergraduates elected by their peers. It has legislative, executive and judicial branches, and it oversees the distribution of more than $2 million raised through the $92.50 student activity fee that all students must pay each semester.
The E-Board is made up of a president, executive vice president, vice president for finance, vice president for academic affairs, vice president for programming and vice president for multicultural affairs. The speaker of the Assembly, the SA’s legislative body, is also an ex-officio member.
The E-Board’s job is to carry out the legislation that the Assembly passes, but it often plays an unofficial role in setting the SA’s agenda and affecting the issues that the Assembly discusses.
Last year’s E-Board and a number of its allies in the Assembly attempted to replace the existing SA constitution with a new constitution that would have reorganized the structure of BU student government and formally recognized the SA as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The Assembly voted to send the new constitution to a campus-wide referendum vote, but the ballot measure failed by nearly a 2-1 margin.
SA President Kathryn Howard said this year’s E-Board was uncertain if it would push for changes to the SA constitution again.
“We are not sure yet,” Howard said. “We are looking at the organization as a whole to see if it’s appropriate.”
Howard and Kate Flatley, the SA vice president for academic affairs, sponsored the legislation that proposed replacing the SA’s constitution as members of the Assembly last spring.
Flatley said that she is looking to partner with The New York Times to bring daily delivery of 700 copies of the New York newspaper to campus. She said she was also negotiating with the Times to secure two internship positions at the newspaper for BU students and to bring speakers to campus.
The greatest obstacle to completing the envision contract with the Times is its cost, according to Flatley. She said estimated it would potentially cost the SA tens of thousands of dollars.
Flatley said she is also working on creating a functional BU Blackboard application for smartphones.
Another goal of this year’s E-Board is to improve the SA’s website.
According to Howard, the updated site will allow students to comment on the SA’s performance and also include a calendar function that will list goings-on on campus.
“It will have all the information that [students] need [and] be up-to-date,” she claimed.
Elections are underway in BU’s residential communities to pick their representatives in the Assembly. College-in-the-Woods held elections yesterday, and Mountainview College and Hinman College will hold elections Wednesday.
Assembly Speaker Drew Howard said he planned to make the body’s meetings more transparent and constructive.
“I want the meetings to be about openness and communication and to keep the conversations productive,” Howard said. “I also plan on hiring minute-takers and have them at more meetings. It is important that everyone knows exactly what representatives are doing and how they are representing them.”
Karl Bernhardsen, SA vice president for finance, said that student groups will now need to report their reimbursements for expenditures within 60 days of purchase. He said that this measure will help prevent abuses.
“There were people who purchased in October and submitted [their information] in May,” he said. “We can’t track all of that information.”
Bernhardsen also noted that the SA enacted a new voucher system over the summer to help the organization keep better track of its finances. The system will enter any funding requests and transfers of money in a computer system, allowing the SA to better track trends.
Bernhardsen has appointed Aaron Ricks, a member of Financial Council (FinCo), as the Council’s new chair. FinCo is responsible for creating the SA’s yearly budgets and allocating money to student groups.
The VPF said he chose Ricks, who is also editor in chief of the Binghamton Review, the campus publication of conservative thought, because Ricks was the most objective and experienced candidate.