“Transparency, transparency, transparency.”
That’s how Kahlil Greene ’21, the Yale College Council’s finance director, described YCC’s financial reforms this year, less than a year after the group bought Patagonia sweaters for members using student funds.
The council’s new policies include mandatory briefings for each YCC member on financial best practices, new pre-purchase and post-purchase forms and strict oversight by the finance and events directors. In the interest of transparency, the student organization will also publish their monthly expenditures on their website.
“We’ve built a new financial infrastructure where one previously just didn’t exist, which was shameful because we were using Student Activities Fee money for the vast majority of what we were doing,” Sal Rao ’20, YCC president, told the News. “This year, we have a ton of initiatives to increase our financial accountability and transparency.”
This past February, YCC used money intended to fund student activities to pay for customized YCC Patagonia sweaters for each of the 13 members of its Events Committee. After the News contacted then-YCC President Matt Guido ’19 about the expenditure, members were asked to reimburse the organization.
Rao said she was not sure whether all members did, in fact, reimburse the YCC.
She added that expenditures in other bodies of the YCC had also been loosely regulated. Brienna Carter ’21, YCC’s communications director, told the News that financial reforms are “incredibly necessary” given last year’s slow process of reimbursements.
“[Last year, the First-Year Class Council] had tons of piling up reimbursements, so YCC told us, ‘Hold on to it, we’ll get around to it,’ Carter said, adding that the checks were not issued until the end of the year, and the organization never asked for any receipts.
The YCC has two sources of funding: an external fund and an internal fund. The external fund is composed of half of the Student Activities Fees — an annual fee of $125 that all undergraduates pay as part of their tuition, unless they opt out — as well as money raised through fundraisers. Money from the external fund is used for Spring Fling, campus events, class council events and the YCC website. This year, the external fund is around $300,000.
The YCC’s second source of funding is an internal fund from alumni donations. Ranging from about $17,000 to $25,000 per year, this money is used for council events, pilot policy programs and YCC community engagement, among other purposes.
According to Rao, who was formerly YCC academics director, funds had been distributed from a central pool, but now, external and internal funding will be delineated.
The new policy is also explained in a “YCC: Financial Leadership” document created by Greene. The document, which was distributed to leaders of First-Year, Sophomore and Junior College Councils, Events Committee and the Spring Fling Committee, explains the two types of expenditures and outlines the financial duties of each committee, Greene said.
Greene added that he has also introduced new pre-purchase and post-purchase forms to streamline reimbursements. In a document titled “Making Purchases in the YCC” — which was distributed to each member of the council — Greene wrote that each purchase must be approved by the finance director, a member of the six-member business team or by the events director.
Former YCC Finance Director and current Student Organizations Director Addison Jakubowicz ’20 told the News that the YCC has been “striving” towards “transparency and accountability” for several years.
“I think that this administration is doing a great job at reflecting on previous years and seeing what we can do to improve on those past actions,” Jakubowicz said. “The new finance director has been going to every YCC Committee meeting to list out financial best practices … but I really do think that it has greatly helped for transparency even just within YCC.”
According to new regulations, any purchases made by the Events Committee or Spring Fling Committee must be approved by the YCC events director.
Events Director Caleigh Propes ’20, who was on the Events Committee last year, told the News that this administration will allot funding to each committee, preventing the use of external funds for internal events. According to Propes, last year’s YCC “kept all of the internal money for just the senators,” or the college representatives.
Rao and Greene have also briefed each subsidiary body of the Council on the new regulations, Rao said. She added that the Sophomore Class Council and the Junior Class Council presidents, the Senate and each of the committees have all been briefed on new purchasing and budgeting procedures.
“I can’t give much of an opinion on last year’s YCC administration,” said Heather Foster ’21, president of Sophomore Class Council. “But I can say Sal and Kahlil have been amazing in making sure our entire council is clear on our budget and how to collect reimbursements for event purchases.”
According to Greene, the YCC business team that he leads has also undergone reforms. Now, the group will have more oversight over financial decisions. This year, the team’s six members fullfil roles ranging from sponsorship coordinators to internal advisors, he said.
Reese Koppel ’22, YCC internal adviser and member of the business team, said he will work closely with other subsidiary bodies to advise them on financial practices.
“I’m going to help a lot with awareness and with oversight,” Koppel told the News. “So we’re going to be making sure that the stuff that happened last year isn’t going to happen this year — there isn’t going to be any sort of miscommunication between the other bodies with the YCC Business Team.”
The Yale College Council was established in 1972.
Aakshi Shaba | email@example.com