By Keith Blincoe, Staff Writer
Thunderbird’s 41 student organizations range from the frivolous (Pub Trivia) to the functional (Thunderbird Marketing Association) to the regional (Japan Club). Many of them host costly activities, and can in theory be reimbursed through the Thunderbird Student Government. The reimbursement process has always been cumbersome, but the merger with ASU has created additional complications and caused delays of more than a month.
Yuya Ota (MBA ’16, Japan) is the treasurer of the Japan Club. He said the club held a farewell event for outgoing members in December 2014, for which $295 has yet to be reimbursed. Ota said he was told a week ago that a form was missing a signature, “They could have told us earlier!”
“We have an upcoming event, but since it’s taking so much time…now we might not.” He explained that Japanese culture added an extra layer of difficulty: “[If we can’t get reimbursed in a timely manner] we might have to spend our private money. And it has to be me and Aki (Akihiro Yamada, MBA ’16, Japan). In Japanese culture we can’t let senior students pay, and only Aki and I are first-year students.” He added that there are five senior students—“and their families too.”
Jonaki Moitra (MSGM ’15, India) is waiting for $1159 from the Asia Regional Night held on March 28. The event overran its budget when over a hundred unexpected guests arrived and organizers had to rush-order additional food.
Moitra explained that because ASU is publicly funded, “every penny has to be transparent. So there’s a form that explains what you how much you spend and what you spend it on and why—how it benefits the college. And this form goes from here to West, West to Tempe, and back.”
ASU and Thunderbird are also structured differently: “Thunderbird is a horizontal organization, but ASU is vertically oriented. We don’t know who our counterparts are. So that’s leading to confusion.”
The good news is that reimbursement is not the only way to secure ASU funding for student activities. A new method has come in the form of a dedicated purchasing card. For the time being there is only one such card, and Office Manager Torrey Mann is its keeper. Keeping up with so many requests is demanding, but overall the purchasing card represents a reduction in red tape. As Moitra put it, “We don’t want there to be have to be reimbursements.”