Change your self, change our campus, change the world
Our mission is to support students' leadership development and promote student engagement in co-curricular activities.
- Cultivate leadership development through student organizations and programs
- Increase involvement in and provide support for registered student organizations
- Promote engagement in student events and campus life
IMPROVEMENTS TO MANAGEMENT OF STUDENT ORG FINANCES -- Sept. 2020
In response to student feedback and to better serve organizations in the future, SLE will be taking a proactive role in managing student organization financial accounts -- not just processing and tracking transactions that SLE makes on behalf of organizations, but tracking all account activity posted to the university’s business office records such as online ticket sales through Cvent, transfers from campus departments, and donations posted through Development. Our efforts include improving transparency and access to the organization’s balance sheet, offering different ways for groups to make purchases, supporting organizations through the ASUSF funding process, implementing better tracking for ASUSF funding grants, and improving communication.
We recognize that it will take time and consistency to regain trust from organizations, particularly for those who have been directly impacted by misinformation in the past. We sincerely apologize for the confusion this has caused and appreciate the opportunity to serve our student community more effectively in the future. Communication is particularly important for SLE to work in partnership with organizations, because organizations still have the best knowledge of the transactions they approve or initiate for their financial accounts. We commit to being proactive with our communication and responsive to your requests as we strengthen our partnership.
Background Information and Details
Over the past years, SLE has worked with various university offices to create policies and processes to allow student organizations to open and maintain financial accounts. This has been important for ensuring that organizations can carry out their activities and have continuity from one year to the next, and it has been so successful that SLE now manages 130 student organization accounts (compared to 16 accounts originally).
While SLE took measures to process the increased transactions on behalf of organizations, student organizations have had the autonomy to track and manage their own finances. We recognize that organization officers have often had difficulty with doing this due to officer transitions, juggling other responsibilities as students, and not being able to access university records for their accounts. It has also been difficult for SLE to correctly represent the financial account history on behalf of organizations because the university processes and records are designed for departments, not organizations, and it is a challenge to bridge the two systems. We rely heavily on our Accounting Assistants to track transactions for organizations but as student staff, similar to officers, they have limited access to the university financial systems.
Some examples of the challenges SLE faces with sharing the “current balance” and other account information:
Purchases made on behalf of organizations by SLE on a university card do not appear on the organization’s university account until a monthly report is submitted and approved. In cases where the monthly report has more than $5,000 in total transactions, additional approval is needed from the Division of Student Life. In cases where the monthly report has more than $10,000 in total transactions, a third approval is needed from the university’s budget office. This can cause several months of delay with transactions being posted to the account. We are working with the various offices to ensure faster approvals for these reports.
Donations made through the Development office, such as gifts from outside donors or alumni, are posted to the organization’s account without notification to SLE or the organizations. If an organization is expecting a donation or brings a donation check to SLE, we have been able to track it. Development has policies around donor privacy which limit their ability to notify us about specific gifts, but we are working to find a way to receive a consolidated report of all donations made to organizations. Meanwhile, we can note transactions monthly for each financial account or upon request.
Contributions or payments from campus departments are processed through a monthly transfer request by the department providing the funds. When faculty members approve a contribution, it is typically handled by the Program Assistant, who submits it to the Dean’s office, who compiles and approves the monthly request. Accounting & Business Services (ABS) then processes the transfer; in total it can take several months for transferred funds to be posted to the account. If SLE is notified about the approved transfer in advance, we will make the funds immediately available to the organization; but if we are not notified, we cannot follow up if a transfer is not received.
Purchasing and ABS determine whether sales tax is owed on a vendor payment, and if required, the amount of the payment is automatically changed. Until this new amount is posted to the account, SLE does not know about the change, but at that point it is not possible to reverse it. All Amazon orders are also impacted because we need to submit these through the Hilltop Shop. Most times, the USF pricing will be lower than the regular Amazon prices, but there’s no guarantee on the price and timing before we place the order. We now have a greater awareness of the past transactions that have been impacted, so SLE can work with organizations to plan for possible fluctuations in cost and timing.
Honorarium payments made to USF faculty or staff need special approval and will incur an additional benefits charge as well as being subject to tax withholding. Similarly, the only way payment can be made to a student is through Student Employment for a specific job (i.e. DJ or photography services) and these payments are also subject to a benefits charge and tax withholding. In some cases, organizations have not known in advance (or did not notify SLE) that the recipient was a USF student or employee, but once contracted services are performed, the related benefits cost must be paid. The only way around this is for SLE and the organization to work on planning farther in advance so we have a clearer awareness of the costs before the event occurs.
SOCCER TEAM TITLE IX ALLEGATIONS -- July 2020
We in Student Leadership and Engagement were deeply troubled to learn about the allegations of sexual misconduct in our community, both past and present. It takes a lot of courage to come forward and we stand firmly in support of survivors. It is our hope that as the investigations unfold and more stories come to light that we can be a part of the healing process at USF. We stand by our commitment in attempting to create a better campus culture every day we come to work through leadership and involvement programming. We encourage the students and alumni we are privileged to serve to utilize the reporting structures that exist on campus already through the Title IX office and the whistleblower tool, both shared in the community message sent yesterday. For those of you still struggling with trust in our internal processes we'd like to remind you of reporting structures in place through local authorities and the National Sexual Assault Hotline (rainn.org). This has been a trying week for our community and we are disappointed that we will not be seeing you in person this fall. However, we are very much looking forward to building a virtual community of wellness, connectedness, and hopefully some happiness as we bring in new students and re-engage with those of you returning.
BLACK LIVES MATTER -- June 2020
Black Lives Matter. We join many other departments and colleagues across the USF Community in solidarity. We too are outraged and pained by the brutal murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, Adrian Medearis, and so many others who have lost their lives due to racism, white supremacy, and police brutality. We are disgusted by the violent attacks on peaceful protesters rising up to express the grief and anger felt by generations of Black people who experience racism daily.
Student Leadership and Engagement stands in solidarity with our students and supports student activism. We are committing ourselves to breaking down institutional barriers as well as confronting our own individual privilege as staff within this institution, particularly as white and non-Black people of color who must constantly challenge our anti-Black racism.
For those who want to join us in self-education and action, we will continue to post resources on our website this summer. Changing the world from here starts here, with each of us doing what we can for our individual and collective growth to dismantle the white supremacist structures that threaten Black Lives. Contact us with any suggestions, or join our open office hours on Zoom to continue the conversation.
In Solidarity, Student Leadership and Engagement