SGA under fire for budget problems

by Sharon Albright

When someone promises they’ll pay you back, you tend to believe them, especially if that someone is Simpson College and the amount is $215 per person.

This is the situation that four members of Public Relations Student Society of America have found themselves in, despite months of trying to get a check for the $860 amount that the then Student Senate (now the SGA) promised them in October, according to junior Jessica McDonald, PRSSA president.

“We approached Senate before our national conference in November,” McDonald said. “But, in order to officially register for the meeting in time, four members paid the $215 registration fee out of their pockets, which is how we’ve always done it.”

Junior Morgan Perkins has been a part of PRSSA each year and attended the conferences.

“The funds have always been allocated soon after we turned in our receipts,” Perkins said. “But, that isn’t the case this year, and we have people, some graduating or planning May Term trips that really need this money soon.”

According to sophomore Michael Schrodt, student body treasurer, this situation just recently came to his attention, and he indicated that it is not specific to PRSSA alone. As the collector of student organization’s receipts, Schrodt said he passes these receipts along to Jim Thorius, who then directs them to the business office.

“When I gave Dean Thorius the budget allocation (for PRSSA) in December, I was under the impression that it was going to be completed,” Schrodt said. “Well, it’s just now that I’m finding out is that the money hadn’t been transferred.”

Schrodt looked into this matter and found that several budget statements showed negative balances for campus groups that had asked for money from Senate.

“My understanding is that the business office likes to do it all [the reallocating of funds] in lump sums, whether that be at semester or at the end of the year, I’m not positive,” Schrodt said.

PRSSA members looked for reimbursement at the end of last semester and were told that their paperwork was held up because a Senate member hadn’t signed it, according to McDonald. Then, they were told that the money would be to them by March.

PRSSA members note inconveniences both in their personal lives and in the functioning of the group as a result from this extended waiting time.

“These members are frustrated and we take valuable time away from our officer meetings trying to figure out how to address this,” McDonald said.

Perkins said that PRSSA’s advisor, Alvera Kromer, has looked into the situation for them, but the matter is still not resolved. Perkins has a direct interest in the matter, as she is one of the students awaiting the reimbursement money, as well as the group’s former treasurer.

“I went on spring break, and I planned to pay for my plane ticket with the money I would get back from PRSSA,” Perkins said. “Instead, I had to dip deeper into my savings account.”

Schrodt says he is aware that this matter has created anxiety within some groups, but he assures that Senate’s promise of funding will not be forgotten.

“Every organization that has asked for money, has turned their receipts in and followed the proper procedures will receive their money,” Schrodt said. “It may not show up on any of this year’s accounts. They may come back in the fall and get a budget statement that shows that it’s cleaned up.”

Schrodt says, in fact, that many campus groups sit with negative balances right now, which is expected, due to the intentional procedure of deficit spending.

“Every organization has an account in the business office; deficit spending means that basically every organization starts out with $0, and then they spend money, which the Senate reimburses them for the amount they offered to,” Schrodt said. “All other debts are the responsibility of the organization.”

McDonald said that PRSSA members don’t charge their conference registrations to the PRSSA group’s account because it takes away from what the group is able to do until funds are transferred in the business office.

Schrodt says that he plans to further educate campus groups about the deficit spending procedure, since it is logically a good method to use.

“There was one organization this year that requested a sum of money, but once they got the receipts back, we saw that they’d spent less than what they had originally asked for, so we actually ended up giving them about $50 less as a result,” Schrodt said. “In this sense, it allows the Student Senate to better control its money and we have more leftover to spend at the end of the year. Instead of just giving people money and never checking back on them, this is more efficient.”

McDonald and Perkins, in the meantime, wait on the “efficient” system, hoping that group members are not soured to their PRSSA experience by this situation.

“I hope that this doesn’t discourage people from going to our conference next year out of fear that they won’t get their money back,” McDonald said. “After all, we have very little income as students, and $215 was a lot of money for our four members to put out up front.”

What do you think about the SGA budget allocations process? Tell us about it at