ASG: Balance sheet available by request

Michelle Ma

Students who want to see Associated Student Government’s financial transaction records can expect to see at least one document upon request. But the information provided may not be detailed.

Students can request to see a Student Organization Finance Office printout of ASG’s transactions, said ASG Treasurer John J. Hughes III, a former Daily Forum editor. The printout will show the date, dollar amount and type of each transaction with some security information and account numbers kept confidential.

Information from other sources of documentation will be provided if it will add to students’ understanding of the budget, Hughes said.

“We’ll provide enough information orally or in written form what the transactions entail,” said Hughes, a Weinberg senior.

ASG uses SOFO’s transaction printouts and two other computer programs to manage their accounts. Hughes said he also maintains a QuickBooks ledger for all transactions.

Although ASG transaction information has been available to students upon request, a senator proposed in January to make ASG’s financial information more accessible to students. Currently ASG’s ledgers are not open to students unless they contact Hughes.

Complete ledger information for ASG’s accounts currently is not online because the volume of requests to see the ledger has been low and the information would be difficult to understand, Hughes said. He added that if enough students request the information the ledger information would be posted online.

“To post it would probably leave people to make mistakes when they are interpreting the information,” he added.

But some people within ASG are demanding more action. Phi Mu Alpha-Sigma Alpha Iota Sen. Gabe Matlin, a McCormick senior, called for ASG’s “printout” of financial transactions to be replaced by a more detailed ledger but his legislation was struck down in January.

Matlin said this week he plans to push for a referendum calling for similar objectives. A referendum does not need to be passed by the Senate and requires at least 200 student signatures. If passed, the referendum would most likely take the form of an online poll.

Hughes said he has a “basic idea” about the purpose of every transaction, but he sometimes lacks information about who initiated it.

Some student group leaders said they are required to keep more detailed notes about their student group’s spending for the auditing process.

“I’m accountable for every transaction we do,” said Dave Murphy, business manager for Arts Alliance and a Medill junior. “I have to know exactly where everything is going. I can tell ASG to the dollar what I’ve spent on what.”

Murphy had a letter published in The Daily on Tuesday supporting Matlin and calling for a revision of ASG’s record keeping.

Hughes said for the last 13 months, about 25 percent of the money ASG receives from departmental funding has gone toward “community-building events,” including bar nights, New Student Week events and a Chicago Blackhawks game last year. About half of the funding went toward the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day expenses, including food for children participating in the MLK Day mentorship program. Twenty percent went toward student group support, including seed money for student groups and money for the Leadership Advisory Board. The final 5 percent went for ASG senator retreat expenses.

The money for these programs came from university department funds. All student groups can petition for extra funds, although only some exercise this right because they don’t know they have the option.

Habitat for Humanity Treasurer Elizabeth Kim, a Weinberg senior, said her group has never done a departmental request for money because she doesn’t know much about it.

Amnesty International relies on some departmental funding for some of their events, said Treasurer Burhan Khan, a Weinberg junior.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected].