How much control is too much control for one student to have over other students’ money? This has been the underlying question the Government of the Student Body has been faced with in an ongoing dispute.
Last Wednesday, Oct. 10, GSB passed a bylaw change which placed guidelines on the Executive Initiative Account.
The Executive Initiative Account is funded by student fees and gives the president of GSB access to funds that can be use toward presidential initiatives for issues that may arise during his or her presidency.
The original bylaws pertaining to this account gave the executive position almost free reign of the account without any checks or balances. The absence of oversight was the driving force behind the bylaw change.
“We wanted to make sure the money spent from this account is used for well-worth things,” said GSB Sen. Jake Swanson, junior in global resource systems. “Students deserve to know what their money is being spent on.”
The account is allocated $1,500 per year; so far $1,285.80 has been spent this session. The money has been spent to build a wall in the GSB office for a new conference room and on pizza for the Executive Cabinet, pizza for the Iowa State Ambassadors, an Executive Cabinet retreat and for art work in the president’s office.
President Jared Knight said he plans on reimbursing the account for the $58 spent on art rental and the $98.90 spent on pizza. This was only made clear after concerns were raised by Senate members.
“We used the Executive Initiative Account to front cost on food purchases with [the] cabinet and the ambassadors,” Knight said.
Some senators expressed concern toward the intended use of the account.
“The account was meant for presidential initiatives, not building walls or buying pizza,” Swanson said.
The account was red-flagged by GSB’s Finance Director Arjay Vander Velden, when he noticed the need to comply with the auditing process performed by Campus Organization Accounting.
This is the first time GSB has been audited in four years. This is also the Executive Initiative Account’s first time under inspection, as it was started four years ago.
To comply with the auditing process, GSB passed a bylaw change that bound the account to “priorities and criteria,” which is a list of flexible rules the Senate uses as a guideline when determining funding for organizations.
“We wanted to have a check and balance system in place for the auditing process,” said Gage Kensler, speaker of the senate and senior in political science.
When the account was red-flagged, it was unclear to members of the executive cabinet, especially Knight, what audit standards were defined as.
For a week, Knight and other cabinet members searched through documents in an attempt to understand what Iowa State’s provisions were for audit standards. Knight contacted several people around the university and in the Board of Regents office about the standards.
On Thursday, word from the Business and Finance office arrived, stating the account was compliant as it stood before Senate met Wednesday, but it was too late; the Senate had already gone through with the bylaw change.
“It was an interesting procedure,” Knight said. “It was a classic GSB debate. … We can’t set the precedent that we’re going to pass bylaws to stop cabinet initiatives. ... The bill went forward without anyone talking to me or without a clear idea of what the audit standards were.”
Kensler reiterated the need for bylaw changes to support guidelines on the Executive Initiative Account.
“Some saw this account as a discretionary account; it is supposed to be an initiative account,” Kensler said. “We need to keep it within requirements; the original idea of the account has been lost in my opinion.”