Guide to SGA’s Audit

Confused about the SGA audit and its potential impacts? The Wheel broke it down:

What did SGA audit?

SGA commissioned a committee to collect data on undergraduate student club participation from Oct. 12 to Nov. 11. Using that information, the committee made recommendations on how the Student Activity Fee (SAF) should be allocated amongst divisional councils (College Council, BBA Council, Emory Student Nurses Association (ESNA) and Oxford SGA).

The committee asked divisional councils to collect membership data from clubs they fund. The divisional councils emailed forms to all club presidents requesting information on club membership, specifically in which school their members were enrolled. Club membership was defined as attendance at two or more club meetings during the Fall 2018 semester or attendance of at least 50 percent of general body meetings (GBMs), whichever is greater.

Clubs were also asked to provide attendance data for public events that occurred in the past year using either a student ID card reader or manually entered from sign-in sheets, but the audit committee did not use the event attendance data because many clubs did not provide this information.

Why did the audit happen?

On Sept. 24, SGA approved Bill 52sl32, sponsored by BBA Council President Jay Krishnaswamy (16Ox, 19B) and SGA BBA Liaison Geoffrey Tseng (19B). The bill called for a committee to audit undergraduate club participation to determine the amount of cross-participation between divisional councils (e.g., a College student participating in a club chartered under BBA Council).

Krishnaswamy has been pushing for BBA Council to receive more funding from the SAF since April, saying a disproportionate number of College students are participating in BBA Council-chartered clubs.

What is the SAF/fee split?

All students pay a $92 SAF each semester. SGA then allocates SAF funds to the divisional councils and executive agencies (undergraduate-wide organizations) through the Fee Split.

Each student’s $92 SAF is allocated based on which school they are enrolled in. Currently, 60 percent of a College student’s SAF goes to the SGA macro fund, which funds SGA operations, executive agencies and other SGA office services, while the remaining 40 percent goes to College Council.

For Business School students, 34 percent of their SAF goes to the BBA Council, 14 percent goes toward College Council and the remaining 52 percent goes to the macro fund. For Nursing School students, 68 percent of their SAF goes to ESNA and 10 percent goes to College Council, with the remaining 22 percent going to the macro fund. For Oxford students, 94 percent of their SAF goes to Oxford SGA and 1 percent of their SAF goes to College Council, with 5 percent going to the macro fund.

What methodology did the audit committee use to make recommendations?

The audit committee examined which undergraduate schools students belong to and which clubs they participate in.

Twenty-two clubs, or about 12.5 percent, did not submit data, including clubs that work on sensitive topics such as mental health and sexual assault. To address nonresponse, the committee extrapolated data using the median club membership of the club’s divisional council.

The committee found that although College Council funds the vast majority of club membership (more than 5,000 students compared to BBA Council’s 700 and ESNA’s 450), the committee determined that Business School and Nursing School students participate in College Council clubs at a disproportionately lower rate than what their SAF contributes to College Council.

What did the audit committee recommend?

The audit committee recommended that Goizueta Business School students’ contribution to College Council be reduced from 14 percent to three percent and Nursing School students’ contribution to College Council be reduced from 10 percent to four percent.

The committee recommended no changes be made to College students’ contributions, and made no recommendations on students’ contributions to the macro account.

Who is on the audit committee?

Seven students sit on the audit committee, including one representative from each divisional council and two SGA legislators. The committee’s composition is below:

  • Hugh O’Neil (21C), Executive Appointee
  • Geoffrey Tseng (19B), BBA Council Representative
  • Chandler Smith (22C), College Council Representative
  • Gigi Rusnak (19N), ESNA Representative
  • Liam Dewey (19Ox), Oxford Representative
  • Dezmon Scott (17Ox, 19C), SGA Legislator
  • Mo Singhal (22C), SGA Legislator

Will the recommendations be implemented?

After the audit committee issued recommendations, SGA BBA Liason Geoffrey Tseng (19B), BBA Council President Jay Krishnaswamy (16Ox, 19B), BBA Council Executive Vice President Willi Freire (19B), BBA Council Vice President of Finance Ashley Daniels (19B), ESNA President Jasmine Wilson (19N), ESNA Vice President Salem Kemsi (19N) and ESNA Treasurer Jenny Choi (19N) presented Bill 52sl38. The bill would implement the audit committee’s recommendations and increase funding to BBA Council and ESNA at the expense of College Council.

Because SAF-related matters are considered “issues of significance” under the SGA constitution, SGA held a town hall on Nov. 30 for students to voice their opinions. At the town hall, approximately 25 students — most of them student government and club leaders — raised concerns regarding the audit methodology and conclusions.

On Dec. 3, SGA rejected the bill by a vote of seven votes in favor, six votes against and one abstention. The bill needed two-thirds majority to pass, according to Speaker of the Legislature and SGA Sophomore Representative Lori Steffel (21C). However, BBA Council is considering challenging the bill’s defeat by bringing a case before the Constitutional Council, the judicial body of SGA, according to Krishnaswamy.

Krishnaswamy forwarded the Wheel an email from Constitutional Council Chief Justice Owen Mattocks (20C) saying that he believes the bill did not fail because it needed a simple majority, not a two-thirds majority.

What is the deadline to change the Fee Split?

Dec. 31 is the last day for SGA to make changes to the Fee Split for the next administration, according to the SGA Finance Code.

“If we were to wait … that’s another year BBAs and nursing [students] would be affected by not having the funds,” Krishnaswamy said. “If we delay, that’s another year BBA gets hurt.”

What is College Council saying in response to the recommendations?

Student leaders expressed concerns regarding the audit’s methodology and conclusions at the Nov. 30 SGA town hall.

College Council sent all College students a Nov. 3 email criticizing the audit, saying it was “rushed and unrepresentative and re-allocates thousands of dollars without sound evidence.” College Council noted that the audit only considered Fall club membership despite 62 percent of College Council spending on clubs occurs “in the spring in comparison to 38 percent in the Fall.”

CC Junior Legislator Jasmine Cui (20C) previously said the data collected could be inaccurate, as many CC clubs were unsure how to fill out the club membership reports. She said the committee should have considered event attendance instead of club membership, citing Emory Food Chain as a club which does not have fixed membership and instead operates on a volunteer basis.

SGA Freshman Legislator Mo Singhal (22C) said that because the redistributed funds would go towards divisional councils and not individual clubs, the SGA finance committee was concerned that divisional councils would not fund clubs accordingly.

Singhal cited Kegs, a weekly networking and socializing event for BBA students, saying he wanted to ensure that BBA Council clubs would receive the funding, not Kegs.

What about Oxford clubs?

Oxford club membership is composed of more than 99 percent Oxford students and cross-participation between Oxford and other divisional councils is minimal, according to the audit committee.

As such, the committee approved Oxford SGA’s request to conduct its own audit and issue a separate report, which will include additional information such as international student participation and first-year participation.