Student organizations on campus have three choices when setting up a financial account –– a traditional bank account, an account through the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLiCE) office, or a combination of both.
Any student organization that’s receiving money through the university either through student government, the Flea Market or an academic department has to house their money with SLiCE in a Student Financial Organization Account (SOFA), said Hermen Diaz, SLiCE Assistant Director of Involvement.
“Our office will kind of serve as a financial assistant of that money to a degree,” Diaz said. “With the SOFA account the student organization has to spend their money according to CSU guidelines.”
At the beginning of each semester, every student organization is required to register with SLiCE and have a representative attend a workshop on how to navigate financial requirements if the organization has a SOFA account.
The workshop includes how to fill out financial request documents, items organizations aren’t allowed to purchase (gifts and alcohol) and how to use a P-Card, which is a credit card lent out by SLICE.
Although any organization can deposit self-generated funds in a SOFA account, many open up separate bank accounts.
“I have a hesitation working with SLICE,” said Paul Vanderheiden, junior interior design major and president of the CSU Interior Design Association. “It seems too restrictive and like there’s too much paperwork involved compared to a normal checking account.”
His organization sponsors a “Wine and Dine” event where alcohol is served, which would be a purchase not allowed under CSU and SLiCE rules.
Spencer Kaye, a senior health and science major and organizer of CSU’s Snowrider Club, had a slightly different viewpoint on having a bank account through SLiCE.
“Honestly, I think they make it easy and hassle free,” Kaye said. “There’s a learning curve, but once you understand the layout and how it works it’s not too bad.”
Kaye said his organization has two accounts. The SOFA account is used for expenses related to campus activities, like setting up a booth on the plaza, while a traditional checking account is used for activities like buying the rights to show new movies and printing out t-shirts for members and promotional services.
Some of the benefits of a SOFA account, Diaz said, is the services of two full-time accountants who are available to help student organizations handle their finances. There’s also the benefit of being able to use CSU’s sales tax exemption status when goods are purchased through a SOFA account.
“For some student organizations, that may not be that much,” Diaz said. “For others that have a lot of purchases, that can be a rather large chunk of money.”
Having a SOFA account also ensures that student club finances are accounted for, which can simplify the transitions for incoming officers replacing outgoing members who have graduated.
“With a SOFA account you know it’s safe,” Diaz said. “You don’t have the revolving door of cardholders and having to switch information over.”
Although it’s rare, there are some instances where an organization will cease to exist with money left over in the account, said SLiCE accountant Michelle Frick.
After two years of inactivity the SLiCE office will make every effort to contact members and advisors to see what the status of the organization is, Frick said.
If nobody can be reached, the money is either donated to similar groups or put into a resource room for other organizations to use. If an organization is disbanding, university rules dictate they’re not allowed to withdraw remaining money and close out the SOFA account.
“When they open these accounts, they have to follow the same rules and regulations as if they were the business college or any other college with money on campus,” Frick said. “We don’t necessarily have the same freedoms a bank has like with a checking account.”
Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.