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Student Activities Office Offers Improved Services

By Keith J. Winstein

NEWS EDITOR

The Student Activities Office, which provides banking services to student groups and dormitories, announced a series of improvements yesterday in an e-mail to student group treasurers.

The changes are part of an effort to make the office’s services more convenient in the wake of last year’s controversial decision to bar student groups from holding outside bank accounts. Topping the list of changes is a promise to give student groups speedier access to funds in their accounts.

“If you get your check request in by 1 p.m., you get your check the next day by noon,” said Tracy F. Purinton, assistant dean for student activities. Previously, the office only issued checks on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Alvar Saenz Otero, Graduate Student Council treasurer and former Association of Student Activities president, worked with the office on the service enhancements.

“The goal was to make the student activities office work as much as possible” like a bank, he said. “Ideally we would have gotten same-day reimbursements.”

Groups to get petty cash, interest

Purinton also announced an emergency “petty cash” policy, under which a student group may receive up to $200 in cash immediately, freezing its account until the office receives receipts accounting for the money spent.

Groups may only make “petty cash” withdrawals two times per semester.

Additionally, for groups prepared to maintain a minimum balance of $5,000, the office now offers interest-bearing “reserve” accounts earning four percent annually.

Group leaders mostly positive

Student leaders were cautiously optimistic about the service improvements.

“They’ve been 100 percent reliable for the 20 or so checks we’ve written so far,” said Alex Rolfe G, president of the Lecture Series Committee, which he said expects to issue about $10,000 a month in checks through the activities office.

Banking through the office “adds about a day to our turnaround time writing checks and it’s a little bit more paperwork,” he said, but with the service improvements, “it’s not insurmountable.”

“I appreciate how much work the Student Activities Office has done,” Saenz Otero said, but “I’m still not happy with the [outside bank account] decision and how it was made.”

Purinton acknowledged the criticism and said the office was attempting to do its best under the strictures of the outside bank account decision.

“It is a work in progress and we are planning to continually assess our services this year and get input from students about what is working well and what is still challenging,” she said.