Q&A: USG Vice President for Finance Maggie Palys discusses her plans

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Q&A: USG Vice President for Finance Maggie Palys discusses her plans

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Junior Maggie Palys, a finance major, was recently elected Undergraduate Student Government’s new Vice President for Finance. She is a junior studying Finance. She said she hopes to use her experience in finance to increase transparency and accessibility.

Why did you run for Vice President for Finance? 

I ran because through my time on Finance Committee I have identified a number of areas where we can improve the funding process. I want to create an environment where all students feel heard and fairly represented in the USG finance process, where there is increased transparency with respect to committee decisions, and where more student organizations are aware of how finance works and how to make the process work for them to obtain the maximum amount of funding.

What prior experience do you have to prepare you for your role? 

I have been on Finance Committee for three years, through three full budget seasons at this point, and have served as committee secretary — currently the only officer position on the committee — for two years. Additionally, I served this past year as VPF for Tulane University Campus Programming, the student organization which receives the largest budget on campus, and currently serve as treasurer for Men Join the Fight Against Sexual Violence.

What changes do you plan to implement, and how could these changes benefit the student body? 

I plan to work with the USG Director of Communications to create an accessible online resource that students can access to become more aware of their opportunities with respect to USG and campus financing opportunities. I believe that such a resource is a great way to cut down on students’ reliance on the VPF to answer all of their questions, which disadvantages students who don’t realize they can ask.

I also want to increase communication with organizations all year, not just when they send in requests or during budget season. The way to set our organizations up for success in budgeting is to open a dialogue at the beginning of the year so that the organization is spending their money and can present the most effective and necessary budget when budget season rolls around.

Finally, I plan to increase the accessibility of the VPF and the Finance Committee. As I mentioned, many organizations do not feel comfortable reaching out with questions and concerns or do not know that they can. I want to solve this through offering consistent office hours throughout the week and engaging my committee to help in maintaining conversations with as many organizations as possible.

How do you hope to improve transparency and accountability within the finance department? 

As I mentioned, I am hoping to increase communication across the board as well as create an online resource that students can use to learn about finance procedure. Transparency-wise, I think there are a lot of things the Finance Committee does that are not well-communicated to the students we serve. I plan to communicate with student organizations through every step of the decision-making process so that no one is on their toes wondering what happened in committee. Additionally, all decisions will be sent out with attached committee minutes and a high-level explanation of committee rationale. I want organizations to understand where committee decisions are coming from. It is my hope that next year, organizations will contest the Finance Committee not on specific funding decisions, but on the committee precedents and procedures that led to those decisions so that we can best serve our students. The way to achieve that goal is through being as communicative and transparent as possible.

What do you think your biggest challenge will be? 

In working to make USG Finance more accessible and transparent, I know I will be running up against a pretty established stigma of finance as a cold, cut committee. I know it will be a challenge to increase student understanding of finance and hopefully create a new reputation for the Finance Committee, communicating that the students on committee are here to support student organizations in the best way that we can.

Is there anything else you would like the student body to know about? 

We are hitting the ground running on a number of different initiatives and would really appreciate any feedback. If you are interested in offering your opinions or insights on the Finance Committee process, in revamping the Motivation Money allocation process, in developing systems for more predictable travel funding or just in speaking with me about the next year, please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected]