In her article in the last issue of The Trail, Grace Farrell asserted that “[t]he ASUPS budgeting process appears thorough and helpful, but the logistics of reimbursements … remain burdensome.” I write as a co-president of the Jewish Student Union and former ASUPS president to attest to this burden (and its disproportionate weight on students who are economically disadvantaged) and suggest a policy to help alleviate it.
When I served as ASUPS president during the 2022–2023 academic year, my administration issued purchasing cards to ASUPS clubs with budgets over $1,000, empowering them to spend some of their allocated funds independently. These cards were loaded with 40 percent of the club’s budget, and clubs could also be reimbursed for purchases made with personal funds or have ASUPS leadership make purchases for them.
Admittedly, this system was imperfect. My administration sought to implement a policy whereby all ASUPS clubs could spend their entire allocated budget independently without using personal funds, but we agreed to the above constraints after the University’s Office of Finance expressed logistical concerns. Still, the policy improved club spending from the 2021–2022 academic year, when ASUPS did not issue any purchasing cards to club leaders. When my term as ASUPS president ended in April, I believed it would be a starting point for future administrations to build upon.
Instead, the current ASUPS administration has rolled back this progress. It has not issued purchasing cards to any clubs, leaving club leaders two ways to spend the funds ASUPS already allocated them: use their personal funds and seek retroactive reimbursement or ask ASUPS President Chloé Pargmann—the only person in ASUPS with a purchasing card—to make the payment for them. As I have experienced this semester, both options are problematic.
First, club leaders are not able to make a club payment with personal funds if they do not have ample personal funds to spend, and reimbursements this year have often been lengthy and unreliable; as Farrell reports in her article, “the clubs have gotten no response from ASUPS after submitting their budgeting forms about six weeks ago.” As a co-president of the Jewish Student Union, I can attest to the unnecessary burden this system places on club leadership, especially for students who are economically disadvantaged.
Next, asking for a purchase to be made on the club’s behalf is similarly unreliable because the sole purchasing card has a $5,000 monthly limit. In October, a fellow club leader (who asked to remain anonymous) informed me of their experience of needing to make a club payment and being told by a current ASUPS leader that the card was “maxed out for the month.” This constraint forces club leaders to use personal funds for necessary club purchases, which, as argued above, is overly burdensome and inequitable.
To help alleviate these problems, the current ASUPS administration should reissue purchasing cards to ASUPS clubs. At a minimum, this could be under the constraints of last year’s compromise with the Office of Finance, giving clubs with budgets over $1,000 purchasing cards with 40 percent of their budget. However, this ASUPS administration should strive to build on last year’s work and reduce these constraints, further empowering club leaders to spend their funds. It is what clubs, club leaders, and our campus community deserve.