Following the Student Union’s Friday release of its Community Emergency and Enhancement Fund grants for the year, this board would like to commend the CEEF committee on its foresight and its commitment to transparency, as demonstrated by their public announcement of the initiatives.

When the CEEF originally replaced the Student Union’s Capital Expenditures fund in March 2014, the Union planned to spend an annual $200,000 of the $250,000, according to a March 1, 2014 Justice article on the subject. However, the fund has since been restructured, according to CEEF committee member and Class of 2019 senator Kate Kesselman in an interview with the Justice, with about $100,000 of this year’s fund going to annual expenditures on community enhancement and $150,000 remaining each year in emergency reserves. This increase in the emergency budget demonstrates an admirable level of prudence, as emergency projects — such as a new truck for BEMCo — can often require larger budgets than $50,000, according to Kesselman.

The CEEF committee was able to allocate funding for all eight of the grant proposals it received that met CEEF policy criteria; the other 11 proposals were focused too narrowly on specific clubs or were judged not to have a long-lasting campus-wide benefit, according to Kesselman. As such, the current distribution between the emergency and enhancement funds seems most apt.

The Union’s email on the CEEF allocations, sent out to the student body on Friday, revealed a promising step toward Union transparency. Providing students with information on how the CEEF is being used allows students to hold the Union accountable for its financial choices.

While this board recognizes these improvements in the CEEF fund, we also encourage the Student Union to release further information on the details of each project’s implementation. For example, the CEEF email does not elaborate on how the University Textbook Exchange will function or why it was allocated $13,000. In an interview with the Justice, CEEF committee member and Class of 2020 senator Tal Richtman explained that the majority of the budget for the initiative would go toward the creation of the project’s website, with additional smaller expenditures on advertising the project and acquiring textbooks to get the exchange started. This board questions why such a large portion of the budget will be allocated to the website and remains skeptical of the necessity of such a sizeable sum for what seems like a relatively small-scale project. Providing more information on the CEEF initiatives would likely improve accountability in such budgeting decisions and encourage efficiency in allocation.

This board encourages the Student Union to continue in its efforts to be open about its financial decisions and keep students active in its efforts.