The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Changes to SGA catering prompt pushback


A new SGA reform which would restrict catering options for student-organized events has come under fire by students and student organization leaders who view the change as anti-small business and anti-student autonomy. In an interview with The S&B, SGA Treasurer Amanda Weber ’21 clarified that in her opinion, this reform and a variety of others being instituted this academic year are necessary to prevent further encroachment on the independence of the SGA by College administration.

“This particular reform … was essentially designed because at the end of last year we came very close to having the SGA credit card taken away from us. Very, very close. [The credit card] is an important resource for the SGA. It gives us a lot of autonomy from the administration and allows us to independently put on programming and purchase everything we need for it,” she said. “It’s also an important resource for low-income students who want to participate in SGA because it allows them to circumvent the reimbursement process and have support from SGA for that.”

The catering reform limits the number of available options to three: Pizza Ranch, Jimmy John’s, and Grinnell College Dining Services. These businesses were chosen, says Weber, because they are more able to accommodate the SGA credit card, which is heavily constrained by administration.

“One of the things that had contributed to us almost losing the credit card was that students weren’t turning in receipts for the credit card. I knew that a lot of the receipts we were missing were from food, and that all of them were from businesses that don’t have immediate receipt kickback – where they just send me an email with a receipt,” she said. The SGA Treasurers decided to eliminate the risk entirely and instead limit their business to vendors that are able to transmit immediate proof of transaction.

However, Weber clarified that these changes only impact usage of the SGA credit card. SGA is working on an alternative system that will allow student organizations to purchase food from all businesses, including local favorites like Chuong Garden, Prairie Canary and the Frontier Cafe. Students are also still able to be reimbursed for their food orders and other purchases at any business as well.

“We still love local businesses. We want to support them. It’s just a brief period in which things are different while we figure out a way to support them without jeopardizing our own resources,” Weber said.

Luca Nelson ’20, former Student Senator and SHIC employee, questioned the one-sided nature of the decision and called for more student involvement in future decision-making processes, especially those that so tangibly impact student organizations. “I’m frustrated that Student Council wasn’t involved in that at all, and that current students weren’t involved in any way. It seems like a unilateral decision for a problem that seems to not have been caused by students. It seems like a lazy fix,” they said.

Nelson is also concerned that reforms like the catering change, implemented in the name of increased accountability, will be cumbersome and inconvenient for student organizations. One such reform also instituted this year by SGA requires groups to submit a final semester budget at the start of the semester.

“Scheduling all of your expenses ahead of time seems good from an organizational perspective, but sometimes in a club, for example, you schedule things around things like the weather. It’s just going to be that way,” they said.

Ultimately, both Nelson and Weber acknowledge the necessity for the catering reform and others like it. “I’m obviously a big fan of the autonomy of students. I think it’s really important. I won’t lie, though. I do see administration concerns. Things do come up where some of our systems could have put the College in very hot water. I get where they’re coming from,” Weber said.

“I do appreciate what [SGA] is doing … but I would appreciate a little more input in the future. I think that we can solve this. It’s not something that needs to incite giant riots. We just need a little more dialogue,” Nelson said. “Even if you have a good goal, you still need to do it in the right way, and I don’t think this was done in the right way.”

“I’m really excited about these reforms,” Weber said. “I continue to stand by them, and obviously I’m very open to suggestions. … I’m really excited to see how these continue to develop, and I’m looking forward to working with students to make them better,” she said

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *