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Dollar (photo: Cre­ative Commons)

The Hillsdale College business office holds money for all clubs and employs policies to prevent dis­honesty. A business office employee told The Col­legian it struc­tures club accounts this way to pre­clude people from knowing the club’s full balance — a large sum of money for long-estab­lished clubs as well as those which charge mem­bership fees.

 

The office even has metic­ulous safe­guards to prevent dis­honesty, such as including the pur­chased per-unit costs, original receipts, and sig­na­tures of the trea­surer, club pres­ident, and faculty adviser.  

Hillsdale College dis­courages per­sonal liberty and account­ability when it pre­vents club trea­surers and pres­i­dents from viewing their own club’s account balance.

Noti­fying a trea­surer of his account balance will not incline him to embezzle funds. Actually, it is a requirement to do his job well. There’s a big dif­ference between sending the account balance to the club’s board members, whose actions influence the amount of money and sharing the balance with regular members.

The college states its goal is “to pursue good living by building friend­ships, exer­cising lead­ership, and prac­ticing excel­lence in all areas of life outside the classroom.” With 131 clubs on campus, 1,526 stu­dents have 262 options for filling the role of trea­surer or pres­ident — about 20 percent of the school’s pop­u­lation will encounter this problem.

One might argue a trea­surer could be told the account balance once, using simple math to track future expenses. This only works when funds are deposited into the correct account. The Hillsdale College Fed­er­alist Society was paid $473 for our March 9 event, but that amount was deposited into the wrong club account. I had no idea.

This problem reared its head when I, as the former trea­surer of the Hillsdale College Fed­er­alist Society, spent $313 for an event on Nov. 6. I later attempted to reim­burse my board members and was told our account had less than $100 in it, though I had spent no addi­tional money.

I had scheduled a $217 event a week later with a senior attorney of an inter­na­tional law firm, and the business office still wouldn’t let me see the club’s balance.

If I had over­drawn our account, I would have dis­ap­pointed the attorney, 135 people who attended the event, and embar­rassed the national Fed­er­alist Society, which believed Hillsdale College was dis­tin­guished enough to have the second under­graduate chapter in the country.

The Col­legian reported a similar problem in 2016.

“Inter­fra­ternity Council Pres­ident Matt Vani­sacker said not being able to see the budget has slowed down and altered IFC’s activ­ities. In years past, the account balance infor­mation the council received, at times, Vani­sacker said, were incorrect.”

The article digressed to tell that IFC had part­nered with SAB and had promised money but failed to deliver the amount because the IFC adviser was told the wrong dollar amount.

“It’s frus­trating because it’s hard to do my job well when I don’t know how much money we have,” IFC Trea­surer senior Kelly Cotes told the Col­legian.

Red tape dis­courages entre­pre­neurial club ideas just like in the business world.

Everybody makes mis­takes, but through trans­parency, all parties will be better off.

Many trea­surers sidestep the business office by just depositing money into a cash box throughout the year instead of storing money with the college, which comes with risk. One such club had about $900 stolen last semester, though the money was returned.

This wastes a lot of student time. We should trust stu­dents with infor­mation instead of requiring babysitting by club advisors.

Scott McClallen is a senior studying eco­nomics.

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    If you’re going to operate as a trea­surer you need account infor­mation. Any­thing else is non­sense.