New website will hold SA accountable

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September 29, 2011

10:37 PM

The United States Department of the Treasury and the College of William and Mary Student Assembly’s Department of Finance are cut from the same cloth. Like the federal government, the SA monitors the allocation of fuhds to student organizations on campus, but we’ve got it better.

This year, in an effort to become more accessible to the general population, the SA plans to create an online space where students can see a real-time tracker of its finances. The program has great potential and students have a duty to take advantage of it. When our government reaches out to us, we need to reciprocate.

Our tax dollars float out of our pockets and where they go we’re never quite sure. Well, that may remain the case for the federal government, but no longer for us at the College. According to Undersecretary of Finance Emil Iqbal ’13, the website, “Budgetwatch,” will be updated almost daily to show the current spending and savings of the SA. This website could develop into a one-stop shop for budget awareness on campus in a format that even non-accounting majors can understand.

Allowing more transparency with the SA’s financial decisions may encourage more direct involvement on the part of students. For those who hold leadership positions in clubs and organizations, “Budgetwatch” has the potential to be a very enlightening tool. It could also give the student body a stronger voice. If we see our money being inappropriately distributed, we have the chance to speak up. We can take an active role in understanding the inner-workings of our student government.

Students are not the only ones who stand to gain something from “Budgetwatch.” The SA will primarily act as the benefactor, but it may also prove to be a beneficiary. “Budgetwatch” could present the opportunity to view the fiscal process from an outside perspective. Feedback from students and from its own staff might help to improve the overall system of the assembly.

The SA, in making the effort to increase the trasparency of its finances, hopes that the students will respond positively. We should. This isn’t a scam, a trick or a hoax. When have we — particularly with regard to the government — ever been treated with complete honesty and openness? We need to recognize and appreciate this opportunity.

Perhaps this sounds like a great concept, but some may argue that no one will take the time to utilize it. A majority of the underclassmen have probably never even visited the SA website. It may take too much effort to find. Some students simply might not care enough to even look.

As students at the College, however, it is our responsibility to be fiscally observant. With tuition on the rise and continual cuts in state funding, not to mention the national economic situation, we must be conscientious with our money. By creating “Budgetwatch,” the SA is demonstrating initiative that may help us in the future, and in return, we should meet it halfway. If we have the time to log onto Facebook eight times a day, then surely we can spare a minute to check something of actual importance.

Government as a whole, whether administrated by politicians or by students, is a labyrinth. At times, it can feel like no one other than those who are trained and employed by the Treasury truly understand the mechanics of its finances, but as students at the College, aren’t we seeking knowledge and comprehension? Now we can get some answers.

Our very own treasury is taking strides in advancing student participation in finance. An opportunity to further democratize the College has come knocking — we’d better answer the door.

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