SOFO digitalization initiative advances to pilot program


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

SOFO digitalization is now in the pilot stage. Pending evaluation from pilot groups, the new system will open to all student organizations in the spring.

Yunkyo Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government President Izzy Dobbel announced in a Jan. 15 Senate meeting that the digitalization of the Student Organization Finance Office is now in its pilot phase.

“We’re just going online now, which is huge,” Dobbel said.

Student organizations use SOFO to deposit or withdraw club funds, but SOFO’s paper-based approval system requires members to get signatures from club officials and then submit documentation in person between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Under the digitized model, club members will be able to submit receipts that automatically send confirmation emails to club officials, leading to faster reimbursements.

Dobbel said the new system will pilot to six or seven student organizations on Feb. 20. After an evaluation of the program over the Winter Quarter, digitized SOFO may open to all recognized student groups in the spring.

Digitalization is the result of long-awaited efforts by the SOFO Digital Workflow Committee, a collaboration between ASG representatives, the SOFO office and Northwestern Information Technology. The committee, led by Norris executive director Jeremy Schenk, formed in February 2019.

Since its formation, the committee has also brought together representatives from the Chicago Organizations Financial Office, Kellogg School of Management and others. The committee was approved by University officials in October 2019 to build a voucher process.

Dobbel, who served as an ASG vice president of A-status finances before becoming president, said faster reimbursements through SOFO digitalization will contribute to lifting a financial barrier for students who seek leadership positions in campus organizations and make the process more convenient.

“Now (digitalized SOFO is) a real thing,” Dobbel said. “ASG gets to say, ‘We did that.’”

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