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.