Campus Activities Board (CAB) recently held their spring concert in partnership with hip-hop artist Anderson .Paak and his band mates, the Free Nationals. While CAB made sure to offset the costs of the concert with ticket sales, costs for retainer fees for the artist, stage production and security detail were pre-approved by USF’s undergraduate finance committee.
Henna Samtani, who is double majoring in business administration and finance and accounting, serves as ASUSF’s Vice President of Finance, which means that she chairs the committee responsible for the finances of undergraduate student activities.
Specifically, Samtani head’s a group of 10 students, who under the Finance Committee Code, promise to undertake responsibilities that include: assisting the Committee Chair and Committee Advisor in managing fiscal resources of the Associated Students, developing a recommended annual budget for review by the ASUSF Senate, reviewing budget change requests for ASUSF Funded Accounts and allocating student event funds for organizations (non-ASUSF Funded Accounts).
Samtani is currently working on next year’s budget that will set money apart for some of the University’s more recognizable events and activities, such as CAB’s open-mic nights, Indian Student Organization’s Holi celebration and Hawaiian Ensemble’s Haina Ka Puana No Ka U’i O Hawaii.
Samtani said the finance committee is open to all of ASUSF Senate’s constituents. “Essentially it is an open space where any undergraduate student can come in and act as a voting member,” she said. “And not a lot of people know that,” she continued.
Senior Angelica Zamora, who serves as senior class representative and is a voting member of the finance committee, also believes that many students are unaware of their right to be a part of the finance committee.
“We use the student activity fee to fund a lot of the events and programs on-campus, so giving the students the power to decide where they want their money to go gives them a lot of autonomy and agency,” said Zamora. “ I feel like people don’t take advantage of it like they should, but I also think it’s mostly because people aren’t aware that this is something they could be a part of,” she continued.
Samtani said she gained a lot of perspective last year while serving as on-campus representative for ASUSF Senate, witnessing firsthand the negative reception an increase in the activity fee was producing among students. “When the student activity fee increase went through last [school year], there was a lot of mixed feedback about that,” said Samtani, whose main goal this year, while serving as chair for the financing committee, was transparency.
“I wanted to make it very transparent to the entire student body where the money was going exactly, because I feel like in previous years the reason why an increase on the student activity received such negative feedback was because people didn’t know where their money was going,” said Samtani.
To fight the negative perception of Senate’s role in spending students’ activity fee, Samtani started a publically viewable Google Drive where all of the committees spending is tracked. “Now there is a public finance committee drive where agendas and excel budgets are all uploaded to, and anyone has access to it,” said Samtani who hopes for more student participation with the increased transparency from the committee.
“The increase [on the activity fee] should have given you even more of a reason to come and sit in on these meetings so you know where your money is going and being allocated,” said Samtani. “And to give an undergraduate student body essentially the power to manage a million dollar account is pretty cool,” she continued.