Over this past year, I have served as a senator for the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, and was a member of the Student Affairs Committee. I had the opportunity to work with many talented senators and students, gaining experience I hope to bring to this office.
Each election year, typical goals for the Vice President for Financial Affairs include expanding The FAC (Financial Affairs Committee) endowment, which allows the SGA to give more funding to student organizations, as well as increasing the number of SGA Needs-Based Scholarships awarded, allowing more scholarships to be available to students who are struggling financially.
While these are admirable goals, and certainly two objectives I hope to accomplish while in office, I know the SGA is capable of doing much more to engage students and provide resources to help students realize their own personal goals for college. With this in mind, there are three objectives I plan to implement once I take office – with more to come.
The first objective is creating an FAC program that holds a student club start-up competition. A student on campus may have a great idea for a club, but simply not have the funding to get their concept off the ground. With this competition, students would pitch their unique ideas to an FAC panel of judges, and the winner would be awarded special funding to get their organization up and running (for those of you who are fans of the television show “Shark Tank”, this may sound like a familiar concept). Holding this competition would foster the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of students on our campus, while also offering students a chance to get involved in new, wonderful campus organizations.
Another way I plan to engage students and provide resources is through the development of a simple personal budget form and personal finance education program. Working cohesively with Student Affairs, this form and program could easily be offered to all students and used to help track personal finances. Students who have little exposure to personal finance and budgeting would benefit immensely, as these skills are imperative to ensure an individual’s financial well-being.
Finally, my third objective addresses the funding of an increased FAC endowment in order to provide the resources I have described above, as well as the many others that will be developed over the course of the year. There are many ways to expand a budget, but I believe the best ways get students directly involved and let them take ownership. Such an example is the Honor Flight initiative, developed by Senator Forrest and supported by Senator Greenberg, which used tangible campus engagement to raise about $9,000 for war veterans. By encouraging students and SGA members to use this type of creativity to develop fundraising initiatives, the funding process will be immensely more rewarding and valuable to our campus community.
When I came to the University from my small town in Illinois, I was blown away by the energy and creativity of so many students on campus. Each and every student has a vision for how they want their college experience to look, and as your Vice President for Financial Affairs I will work to ensure the SGA provides the financial resources to help that vision become a reality.
Ben Leake is a candidate for the position of Vice President for Financial Affairs. He is running unopposed.