A look inside the roles of Associated Students

Christine Chan explains how AS functions.

Christine Chan and Christine Chan

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With Associated Students and Student Missionary Union elections week beginning Monday and voting taking place on March 26, current AS president junior Janine Marderian said that she believes elected officers determine the effectiveness of AS for the year.

“I know that in the past, there have been a lot of struggles [with it],” Marderian said. “I think [effectiveness] ultimately goes back to the people who are running the organization, which is tricky because we have yearly turnover — so it’s always kind of a gamble as to what the year’s going to look like.”

The elected president and senior vice president will make important decisions involving hiring the remaining executive board positions, which will include the vice president of marketing and communications next fall. Another important function is to represent the students to Biola administration most frequently.

Responsibilities of AS positions

AS, which acts as a resource for the student body, was established in 1926 and continues to serve Biola as it strives to increase effectiveness and functionality though a number of structural changes.

As AS president, Marderian oversees the senior vice president, programming and events, finance and MarCom vice presidents, as well as the AS/SMU office manager, as they report directly to her. The remaining hired staff in AS all fall under the direction of these officers.

The creation of a new vice president position for a marketing coordinator and what was previously the AS director of marketing and communications were unanimously approved by the senators in the March 6 weekly senate meeting.

“The principle behind [the decision] is that we want students to be connected to what’s going on on campus,” Marderian said. “We can voice their opinions better, and really we’ve already seen that transform hugely in the last year because we had the director of MarCom position.”

Increased student involvement in past year

Marderian, whose two main job functions as president are representing students to administration and working with the AS vice presidents, said that in previous years, marketing consisted mainly of one person making posters as a means of advertisement.

While Marderian doesn’t fault those who previously worked in marketing, she said that since last year’s creation of director of MarCom, AS has been seeing tremendous amounts of improvement in event attendance and proposal feedback, as well as the number of proposals. Proposals generally request money from AS to help fund different student events or projects.

“There’s the student fee of $120 [that each student pays] every semester, so AS gets 75 percent of the student fee,” said senior Samuel Singery, AS vice president of finance. “Of that 75 percent, [the money] is allocated to different departments.”

Distribution of finances

The money received is broken up into different funds, including the general, marketing and payroll budgets. Approximately 75 people, including service chairs, senators, office staff and intramural referees, are on AS payroll.

Singery, who oversees all finances related to AS, said that there are a number of checks and balances within AS to prevent overspending. Singery and finance controller Evan Tan, a sophomore, can only approve up to a certain amount. Anything beyond that must be cleared either by AS adviser Laura Igram-Edwards or John Back, dean of student development, Singery said.

Budget meetings are held toward the end of each semester to determine the following semester’s budget. Service chairs, who are each given their own budget, look at past expenses to propose accordingly to the senate for the next semester’s budget. Senators then vote on whether to approve the proposals. Because a certain amount of funds is kept in contingency, which is made up of the money from student fees, cuts are made if necessary, or if the senate believes they are getting close to that number, although in the past year, service chairs have been proposing for modest budgets.

“It kind of fluctuates, depends on what gets done and what doesn’t,” Singery said.

Student development rather than politics

Marderian is wary of classifying AS as a student government, however, stating that the only governmental element about AS is the elected positions. She sees AS as both a division of student development and a small business.

“I think people tend to think of student government as the place where all the little wannabe-politician kids gravitate, and that’s really not the case,” she said. “I’ve been really impressed by how leadership development goes on in AS and how much learning opportunity there is.”

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A look inside the roles of Associated Students