Q&A: StuGov finance director discusses budget, process


Steven Valentino, finance director of the Student Government, speaks at the Student Government meeting on Aug. 23.

Alex Connor

Steven Valentino, senior in political science, has served in Student Government for a large portion of his tenure at Iowa State. 

Beginning as a senator in the Inter-Fraternity Council and also serving in committees such as finance and university affairs, Valentino has readied himself for one of the more technical positions in Student Government: finance director. 

Appointed by President Cody West and Vice President Cody Smith, Valentino works with a budget of roughly $5 million during his time as director. 

To better understand the role of finance director and his job responsibilities, The Daily met with Valentino to discuss Student Government’s budget and process.

Q: What are some of the responsibilities of your position?

A: [As finance director] I do everything an organization treasurer would do – I manage our budget and plan for our budget for the upcoming fiscal year like any other treasurer would normally do… So, the fundamental responsibilities are the same, the difference then comes because we’re a governing association of student organizations.

Finance director is really the Student Government treasurer… The only other thing [I do] is if students want to transfer line item funds they have to come to me, and I work with COA [Campus Organizations Accounting] to make sure that gets taken care of. Other than that, a lot of it is oriented around what the student population wants in terms of money and they can come talk to me, finance committee as well, about what they would like to fund. 

Q: Do you lead Student Government’s finance committee? How big is it?

A: I chair the finance committee. The finance committee is comprised of around 10 people – there are four senators that sit on it, four at-large members, the treasurer of Student Government also sits on it and then the GPSS treasurer also sits on it. 

For this semester we meet Tuesdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Memorial Union Room 3538. People are more than welcome to come. 

Q: How much money do you work with as finance director within Student Government?

A: In the fiscal year, what I work with is the money allocated from the previous annual allocations and what gets kicked back at us from student organizations don’t use or contracts that don’t use all their funds for the year. It’s about $2.4 million, and then I’m going to help proactively allocate another $2.5 million for the upcoming fiscal year. The next finance director is going to deal with that because those funds don’t begin until July 1. 

It’s about $2.5 million in active dollars and $2.5 future dollars. 

Q: What would you like students and organizations to know about funding?

A: The earlier the better. There have been organizations that have come to us saying ‘We made nationals, we’re going to this conference and we need this money now because we’re leaving Wednesday’ … and I have to [say] finance committee meets once a week, senate meets once a week and senate also doesn’t like last minute things. It happens all the time. 

But also there are things you just can’t plan for and we are cognizant of that and it happens and we’ll deal with it to what we can, but if you’re coming in last minute for something and you knew you were going to nationals two months ago, or you’re just waiting to transfer money over or request money from senate, our funding process is two weeks in pretty much all cases. 

I’m more than willing to contact and meet with people — even on the weekends — but understand a lot of it is on you [student organizations] to be on top of it, because it does make our lives easier. 

Q: Would you mind discussing the Green Fund and the Excellence Fund?

A: Those are two new programs that were started under [this administration.] The Green Fund is a project that was really hammered in by Katie Holmes [current Co-Director of ISU Legislative Ambassadors,] that is for students that want to do a sustainability project or something that improves campus in general from a sustainability perspective. 

This was a way we found we could create a grant process to students that want to do it, granted they would need sponsorship from a department or someone so that we could have a place to put the money and also track what is being done with it. 

This is [The Excellence Fund] one of the coolest finance projects that has been undertaken in my time in Student Government. The idea of it is to engage the campus climate and do something extraordinary or bring back something extraordinary for campus because our typical funding process doesn’t allow for that.

With the Excellence Fund, the idea is to do something above yourself, or something bigger than you is what I think we’re going for and the mission of this. I think the things we fund out of that are going to be very impactful for people.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: Committee applications are going out soon. So, we have four at-large spots. And I would like a full committee because finance committee works best with a full array of perspectives in my opinion.

Also, don’t purchase anything with a debit card because you are not getting reimbursed.