Kristen Grace, Senior Staff Writer

Student organizations that have trouble staying in the black when it comes to budgeting will have to be a little more careful with their spending habits.

Tom Foster, vice president of student organizations, will soon be introducing new legislation to student senate that will close the debt relief program and change the way Associated Student Government (ASG) handles the funding of organizations that fall into debt.

Currently, student organizations that are in debt to the university have their accounts frozen and are no longer able to access additional funds. These organizations have the option to enter the debt relief program, which was established by ASG two years ago. In this program, ASG takes on an organization’s debt to the university and then the organization is indebted to them, Foster said.

The organization is then expected to raise funds to repay their debt, which ASG matches 200 percent, hopefully pulling the organization completely out of debt.

“We essentially cut that debt by a third,” Foster said.

Foster’s new legislation proposal will close the debt relief program, no longer offering a fallback for student organizations. He said while the program helps to relieve organizations in debt, it does not help prevent them from getting into debt in the first place, which is what he hopes his new legislation will do.

Foster said he plans to include in the legislation that any student organization that falls into debt will not have access to certain university privileges such as table tents and reserving rooms for meetings as part of a deterrent.

In the past, organizations have had trouble keeping track of their budget because of a difficult to read monthly statement, Foster said. But now, they will be able to check their available balance online any time they want.

“Organizations have the tools now to know how much there is in their accounts and not go into deficit,” Foster said. “Now it’s going to be on organizations to check that beforehand and make sure they have enough money.”

Up for approval is potentially the last round of organizations that will receive assistance from the debt relief fund. This includes the glee club, which two years ago was over $100,000 in debt after the money for the club’s tour to China was not responsibly collected, said current glee club president Chris Greenland.

“Our then-treasurer decided to just trust that everyone would pay for the trip rather than keep track,” Greenland said.

The glee club initially decided not to enter the debt relief program.

“We had so much debt originally that glee club decided to opt out of the program until we were able to get our debt to a responsible level,” Greenland said.

The glee club was able to reduce its debt to approximately $18,000, at which point they entered into the debt relief program that student senate will vote to approve next week.

According to Michael Sinko, student senator for Emerson Hall, all funds for the debt relief fund are expected to be approved.

“That program was set up at least two or three years ago, and it’s part our agreement to follow through with this bill,” Sinko said. “I definitely see it passing.”

Foster said the glee club’s work to reduce its debt is what he hopes his new legislation will encourage other organizations in debt to do.

“I want glee club to be the model to how student orgs move out of debt,” Foster said. “They’ve done it right.”

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