Student governments become not-for-profit

Transition from Sub-Board I to Faculty Student Association comes with changes for student governments

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UB’s student governments are now incorporated, meaning they are not-for-profit organizations independent from UB.

The fiscal agent transition from Sub-Board I to Faculty Student Association elicited a few changes for the student governments at UB, including each government’s incorporation. Six of the seven student governments –– Undergraduate Student Association, Medical Student Polity, American Student Dental Association, School of Pharmacy Student Association, Student Bar Association and Graduate Management Association –– are all now incorporated, meaning each government is now its own legal business structure. The Graduate Student Association’s transition to incorporate has been delayed, due to the lawsuit and the organization not cooperating with the Implementation committee, but its incorporation is “underway,” according to Carrie Woodrow, the director of Business Compliance and Internal Controls for Policy, Compliance and Internal Controls. 

The governments will function the same, with senates acting as boards of directors and constitutions as bylaws. These bylaws now include the New York State not-for-profit laws, including a conflict of interest policy and whistleblower protection policy. The change also means they lose their tax exemption status and will have to apply for an exemption with the IRS, which could take up to a year, according to Josh Korman, SA’s attorney.

According to Spectrum archives, SA has been trying to incorporate since 2013, though every student government wanted to cooperate eventually, SA’s full cooperation with FSA’s requirement didn’t come as a surprise.

“Becoming incorporated has been in the works since 2013, when a referendum was held by undergraduates about whether or not SA should incorporate,” Korman said. “It passed with 90% of the vote.”

The main reasons SA wanted to incorporate, according to the article, were to “strengthen liability protection, establish an independent identity and streamline finances.” 

Binghamton University and the University at Albany incorporated prior to UB for “liability protection.”

A few other changes are also coming with the transition from SBI to FSA. 

Any vacancies on the BOD are now filled by the board, not by officers. Additionally, the four previous non-voting senate members, the e-board and assembly speaker, are now voting members. In previous years, the e-board and assembly speaker would only impact the vote with their presence at the meeting, but weren’t able to vote themselves.

“Anyone who had concerns regarding [e-board and assembly speaker] impacting the vote and not being able to vote, now they can impact the vote and vote, easy solution.” Eric Weinman, chairman of the SA Board of Directors, said.

Student governments are no longer tax exempt by being incorporated. They need to fill out an application to the IRS in order to gain tax exemption status. SA completed this paperwork over the summer and submitted it to the IRS.

“SA is likely to be granted [tax exemption], we qualify for it in every way, but it’s a process that takes between six months and a year,” Korman said. 

Members of the BOD are also no longer able to vote on their own salaries, which is “very clearly a conflict,” according to Korman. He said they will figure out how to handle this during next year’s stipend proposals.

Brittany Gorny is the senior news editor and can be reached at brittany.gorny@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrittanyUBSpec.