Christian Smith, current Student Government Association treasurer, plans to make the office of vice president for Financial Affairs more efficient and effective through an emphasis on developing continuity and promoting responsible control of funds if he wins the two-candidate race for the position.
Though VP of Financial Affairs is an elected position, Smith feels the education of SGA members involved in Financial Affairs on how to properly maintain the organization’s budget is crucial to ensuring the presence of a capable, qualified pool of candidates for the position in future elections.
“Continuity is really important.,” he said. “The budget runs from October to October. It’s good to have someone in office that can understand why the budget is what it is . . . and understanding expenditures and future plans, as well. [I want to] implement some sort of training. That is something we are already putting in the works, of taking out that huge learning curve.”
However, financial process training shouldn’t only apply to executives, Smith said. He aims to establish educational programs for SGA members lacking experience in fund acquisition for projects and suggested these programs would facilitate more efficient access to finances and faster implementation of ideas.
“I want to provide finance training for all First Year Councilors, all new students coming in, as well as senators and even directors,” he said. “Anyone that has an idea for a project should have a complete finance training.
“If you want funding, this is how much you can ask for, this is how you can go about doing it, this is how you fill out the request forms, and you need to meet with these people. I think that would be really important. I remember projects that, as a freshman, I wanted to do, and I was just confused how to get money and how to go about doing it.”
To further streamline Financial Affairs, Smith’s platform stresses the benefits of internal reform, including eliminating unnecessary costs and increasing accountability for SGA executives.
He cited an in-progress project to decrease the amount of phone lines in SGA offices, as the organization is currently spending money on unnecessary phone bills for extra, unused lines.
Smith outlined his plans to create a director to serve as a liaison between the Financial Affairs department and other SGA vice presidents to track current expenditures and accurately forecast future costs, as well as keep all branches of the SGA on the same page with financial matters.
“We have something called expenditure request forms, and those are forms that anyone that does a project has to fill out if they want any kind of funding. I want to make sure that every single expenditure goes through one of these forms,” he said. “That way, the VP of Financial Affairs knows about every single expenditure, and the treasurer can process that expenditure as soon as they get it.”
Smith said he was told he would receive Machine backing in the form of guaranteed votes when he ran for a Senate position his sophomore year, but he has since completely severed all ties to the coalition. He is running as a member of Advance UA in this election.
“The more I learned about [the Machine], the more I realized it wasn’t what we needed,” he said.