With a somewhat restrictive check system already in place, student clubs and organizations could face even more complicated financial procedures regarding the use of the purchasing card, a Mastercard charge card issued to student organizations and departments for the purchase of business related goods.
Under the current system, organization treasurers or administrators are able to sign out the charge card whenever it is needed to make an affiliated club purchase.
Last Tuesday, students were notified via email that there would be changes to the Purchasing Card policy, which would require clubs to get purchases approved a week beforehand by filling out a request form and signing the card out at the Student Information Desk.
Kathryn Mullaney, the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer of SLU, said that the stricter purchasing card policies were a response to the Office of Student Activities’ request to increase the number of purchasing cards from five to twenty. Mullaney and the Financial Office found that the policies previously in place were weak and inefficient. Mullaney said, “In fact, the SLUSAF Treasurer expressed concern that he never knows what expenses are charged on the credit cards until weeks after the charge.”
Mullaney also addressed student concerns that not every purchase could be planned a week in advance. The Office of Student Activities and Leadership and the SLUSAF Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer are currently working on an emergency approval process to deal with those instances.
R. John Montgomery, the 2012 Thelmo President, said, “The new system of documentation will allow for records to be kept of the different organizations’ spendings so we can continue to adequately provide support and resources to allow for the growth of the various SLUSAF funded organizations.”
Although Montgomery also said that organizations will have to plan more in advance, he is confident that adjustments will be made to the new policy in regards to smaller or last minute purchases. In addition, Montegomery stated that the new policy is not a response to any card misuse on the students’ part, but is merely a request from the HSBC Bank.
Will Shrade, the former House Coordinator of Commons College, also expressed concern over stricter policies that require more planning. Shrade said, “By adding another hoop to jump through, it is just suppressing the organization’s ability to run itself effectively. While it may seem like a good idea to put a tighter grip on student funds so that they are not frivolously spent, a certain amount of freedom must be retained.”
Jordan Pescrillo, President of Literacy for Nepal and member of the Java House, said she’s also concerned about last minute spending and the difficulty of explaining every purchase. Pescrillo said not all clubs should have to adhere to the $1,000 budget, which would limit organizations like ACE and Java that are constantly buying sound and light equipment.
Pescrillo concluded that the new policies will ultimately force student organizations to be more accountable for their spending. She said, “This will be a step in the right direction for understanding how people are using their money and during such tough economic times.”