The Daily Gamecock

Student body treasurer candidates discuss platform points

The Daily Gamecock interviewed student body treasurer candidates, who discussed transparency with the student body and the referendum to remove treasurer as an executive position chosen by the student body and instead make it a cabinet position chosen by the student body president.

Samuel Courson, third-year statistics and economics student

“Restructure and transition” are what candidate Sam Courson called his top priorities if he were elected treasurer.

Courson said he would want to form “the simplest structure” in the treasurer's office. This would include a chief of staff, chief comptroller, press secretary and the comptrollers, who help student organizations receive funding. Courson said he’d also like to have comptroller office hours for campus organizations to come and talk to their respective comptroller.

“That's really all it takes to run the machine efficiently. Any duty that you can really come up with, whether it’s external or internal, can be done by somebody in that structure,” Courson said.

As of Feb. 21, about 60% of the Student Government budget remains unused, according to Student Government's live budget. Courson said this is due to “under-budgeting” and “line-iteming,” where the treasurer estimates the cost of an event. 

Courson said one way he wants to get campus organizations to come and request more funds, and thus use more of the budget, is through “intense communication,” whether it be through text, email or making sure organizations come to the treasurer’s workshop.

Outreach and programming, continuing SGxYOU and promoting transparency through the live budget are other points on Courson’s platform.

“I think everything that's on my platform is doable and is reasonable within the duties of the office. And I think my credibility comes from my experience, and my credibility for me to say that about my platform comes from the experience I’ve had in the office,” Courson said.

Matt Durant, third-year finance and risk management student

Durant’s platform for student body treasurer is made up of three main points: transparency, equity and collaboration.

Kate Lewis, the 111th student body treasurer, started the precedent of putting allocations of Student Government funds on the organization's Instagram page. Durant, who served as Lewis’ chief of staff, said he would expand on this by having his staff members repost the information on their personal Instagram pages to reach a larger audience. 

“It needs to be clear for student organizations that Student Government is held to the same standard as them when they request funds,” Durant said.

To further increase transparency with the student body, Durant also said he wants to collaborate with student media groups and visit student organizations on campus.

“There is that kind of problem with — where [student organizations] don't really assume that they can request funds for certain events. When, in fact, it's very possible, and they just need maybe a little bit of guidance there,” Durant said.

To work towards equity on campus, Durant said he wants to start with having his staff complete Safe Zone training. Safe Zone training allows students to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, according to the Safe Zone Project website.

Durant said he will also appoint an equity comptroller and work with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

“We need to make sure that the student funds are being spent for everyone, and that everyone feels like the school represents them, and a big way to do that is to encourage more equitable spending,” Durant said.

When it comes to the referendum, Durant said he is generally against it, but plans to support whatever decision the student body makes.

Jack Lind, third-year risk management and insurance, finance student

To be more transparent with the student body about the money that is available, Lind plans on reaching out to students through social media, student organization visits and by having the university reach out to students directly.

“I really think we just kind of have to spell it out plain and simple to a lot of these orgs that there's literal free money for you,” Lind said. 

Lind also plans on starting financial literacy workshops that will teach students basic financial information such as how to properly file taxes and how to set a budget. His goal is for these sessions to be in-person and at student organization meetings. 

He said he also plans on improving SGxYOU, where organizations pitch an initiative and compete for funding, by introducing business professionals in the competition. He said he's hoping to strengthen SGxYOU so it is "more applicable for real-world business as well as benefiting different groups of students."

As for the referendum to change the treasurer’s position, Lind said he believes the choice is up to the student body. He said his experience of being in the president’s cabinet would allow him to “properly oversee that the transition carries out amongst the different branches to be efficient for everyone to use.”

Kate Turner, second-year international business and marketing student

The student activity fund goes underutilized every year, Turner said. Turner said her top priorities, if elected, will be outreach, communication and transparency about the student activity fund.

“I really want to show students that this money that you're paying every single semester, this is where it's going; this is where it's coming from; and this is how you can use it in order to enhance your experiences and your opportunities during your four years here at Carolina,” Turner said.

As an out-of-state student, Turner said was attracted to USC because of Columbia’s “vibrant city lifestyle.” Unfortunately, many of the businesses that drew her to Columbia have been hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Turner said she plans on advocating for Columbia’s small businesses through social media.

“We want to encourage students to frequent these businesses because students at USC are such a huge part of Columbia's economy,” Turner said.

Regarding the referendum, Turner said she plans on “fully advocating for whatever the student body chooses.” 

One of the primary goals of the referendum is to streamline the allocation process for student organizations. If the referendum doesn’t pass, Turner said she will continue working toward that goal with other members of Student Government.

Turner is running alongside student body president candidate Alex Harrell. She currently serves on the speaker of the student senate’s staff. Turner also interns at the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission, as a part of the Honors College's South Carolina Semester Program.

Editor's note: Matt Durant is a member of the Board of Publications, which selects executive leaders in student media.