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SAO changes to increase student resources, funds

With its new changes, Boston University’s Student Activities Office  will provide greater online connectivity and increased resources for the benefit of student groups, officials said.

SAO’s development, an ongoing process through the spring 2013 semester, will provide student groups with more efficient ways to deal with paperwork, said Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore.

“Some of the things that they [students] will see are a greater use of technology right away,” Elmore said. “Someone who’s in the leadership position in a club or association will say to himself or herself, ‘wow, there are more opportunities for me to do things such as sell tickets online,’ to be able to do more online and to be able to check people in with their tickets online.”

The restructuring began in January when the Director of Student Activities position opened up, Elmore said.

Elmore said personnel in SAO were changed slightly to maximize efficiency.

“Abby Myette, I promoted her to an associate director’s position there,” he said. “She’s alongside Raul Fernandez, who’s also an associate director, and I’ve got [Assistant Dean of Students] John Battaglino overseeing the whole operation, which included me asking him to move his office over there so he’d be right on the ground and in the space.”

Elmore said SAO officials’ goals are to structure advances in the website that will reduce the amount of paperwork student groups must submit to start and maintain a group.

“With student activities, we’ve got to look at a new world where clubs and organizations come and go a little faster,” he said. “Clubs and organizations I think of more like startups these days. They’re more initiative-driven, cause-driven, and that may mean that the initiative finishes and you move on to the next thing.”

Elmore said the advances will include student groups’ access to SAO funds for on and off-campus activities.

“I’ve asked the Allocations Board to give some more thought to how we allocate funds to student organizations,” Elmore said. “I hope what people will see is a bit of loosening up when they want to request funds, a bit more creativity on the part of our funding board to think about ideas.”

The changes were announced in a letter emailed to leaders of student groups.

In the letter, Elmore wrote an additional $126,000 was made available for student groups to be distributed by the Student Allocations Board.

Elmore included a link to the in-development website and said he encourages feedback.

BU student group leaders said the new changes to the SAO will positively affect their groups’ outreach, productivity and influence on campus.

“For the most part we don’t spend a ton of money, but it is nice to have some funding to put toward certain props and costumes,” said Chris Fisher, Theater for Everyone president. “The big benefit for us is we can put on more elaborate sketches because we would have much more to work with.”

Fisher, a College of Arts and Sciences senior, said the new SAO funds will allow TFE to create a more creative and prop-driven show, but the group will still function as before.

He also said a reduction in paperwork will help the executive board focus on producing their show for the semester.

“It does get difficult and it is a challenge for us since we are not the most organized when working with SAO,” Fisher said. “Changes that make working with SAO easier and faster will help us get organized better.”

Amy Stimets, president of the Alpha Phi sorority, said the option to promote events online is helpful, but the sorority will still stick with the George Sherman Union Link as its primary option for advertising events.

“Even though online still generates buzz, we get our name out there because the turnout is better at the GSU Link than just selling tickets online,” Stimets, a College of Communication junior, said. “It’s a hassle to bring computers to the GSU Link because people have to do it right there and it’s not as convenient as using cash.”

Stimets said her experience communicating with SAO has not been difficult in the past.

“The change I’m most familiar with is SAO being more transparent,” said Rachel Atcheson, the BU Vegetarian Society president and CAS junior, said. “Before, dealing with the Allocations Board, you received your individual allotment by itself, but now you can see online how much every other group has been allotted.”

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