Management of a student group’s members and finances was streamlined over the summer, as the Office of Student Development and Activities eliminated hard-copy forms and centralized the process online.
Any recognized student group can sign up for LionLink, where executive board members can view and manage group rosters, access detailed financial records, and make financial transactions. The reorganization also allows representatives of the Activities Board at Columbia to approve small expenses for clubs without approval from a faculty adviser.
Columbia College Student Council Vice President of Finance Daphne Chen, CC ’14, said that the improved record-keeping system will make tracking groups’ expenses much simpler.
“We’ll be able to see how much groups have actually spent, like the exact amounts,” she said. “This way we’ll be able to see line-item expenditures, and that’ll keep us a lot more accountable ... people will be able to see where their money is going.”
“LionLink is a huge step forward for student leaders across campus,” ABC president Saketh Kalathur, CC ’13, said. ABC is the governing board that oversees cultural, performance, academic, publication, and special interest groups. “This process that’s been done by paper for many, many years is now fully online, so not only does this improve the convenience to student leaders, but it also improves the efficiency of the administration having to track and process all the requests.”
Executive board members can use the new financial transaction forms on LionLink to use their allocations instead of paper forms. More importantly, ABC representatives will be able to approve transactions for groups that are $100 or less, a policy that the board had pushed for last semester. Previously, expense forms had to be signed off by both a group’s ABC representative as well as its SDA adviser. The Student Governing Board, which oversees religious, political, and humanitarian groups, already had this ability.
“That provides you guys with a little more flexibility to manage your transactions and manage the way your groups operate and increase flexibility in spending,” David Simmons, a financial manager in the Student Affairs Central Business Office, said in his presentation to ABC.
The move to LionLink comes at the same time as the implementation of a new financial system for the University, called Accounting and Reporting at Columbia.
The paper form will be eliminated in the coming months, requiring students to go through LionLink to submit their financial transaction forms, or FTFs, Engineering Student Council Vice President of Finance Sidd Bhatt, SEAS ’14, said. This will centralize all data for recognized student groups online.
LionLink provides a way for student leaders to more easily manage their rosters, add students into their groups, and delete students who have graduated. Any Columbia student can register for LionLink and sign up to be part of a club through the site, eliminating the difficult process of locating a group leader’s email address on the Columbia website.
LionLink’s use of multiple functionalities is not a trait shared by many other Columbia web resources. Over the last few years, student council executive board candidates have made campaign promises to streamline the University’s cluttered online resources, but little action has been taken to unify websites undergraduates use on a regular basis, such as Student Services Online, the Directory of Classes, Courseworks, and the Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability.
Student leaders said they were excited for LionLink’s possibilities.
“There are more aspects that can be used,” Bhatt said, such as marketing and listservs. “It could be a platform for registering for Columbia-related events, conferences, training.”
Though the site is still being tested by student council and governing board members, it is open for any student or student group to use.
Kalathur agreed that LionLink would make a good marketing tool. “There’s a virtual billboard so when people flier in John Jay, that functionality is now online,” he said.
“This is just the starting point for LionLink,” Bhatt said.