Increasing the efficiency of the financial systems at the AMS to improve the student experience was a major theme for Lucia Liang at the Great Debate on Friday.
The current VP finance running unopposed for re-election opened the debate by making a strong criticism of the society’s current financial systems and discussing how she would make the finance department more efficient and effective for the benefit of student staff, club treasurers and the students at large.
“I know how obsolete the current financial reimbursement process is,” she said. “The outdated financial system prevents me and my team from reimbursing students and clubs as effectively as possible.”
Throughout the debate, Liang made several criticisms of systems and processes that are difficult for students to navigate. She also noted that those ineffective processes are also creating more work than necessary for her overburdened student staff.
“The AMS finance staff should focus on high-level support for our students, such as providing data analytics or face-to-face consultation, rather than mundane daily tasks,” said Liang.
Given that the AMS’s contract with Showpass is expiring this year, Liang wants to explore the option of a new ticketing system for AMS and and club events that will have lower service charges. She also criticized the current process for distributing ticket revenue from Showpass to the relevant clubs, saying that the accounting team and her student staff are manually moving the money.
“That’s when you can make human errors,” she said. “That’s where you can make the process very slow.”
Liang also wants to help students navigate the labyrinthine financial system by improving the orientation for club treasurers. She raised the idea of setting up budgeting workshops to help clubs and constituencies when they’re submitting budgets, as well as moving orientation materials online.
“The module will be an enhancement of knowledge and make things more accessible to [treasurers],” she said while explaining her idea for improving orientations. “After four months in the summer, they can come and revisit something and say … ‘I can work through module workshops to retrain.’”
To continue the conversation about improving the accessibility of the AMS’s Finance department, Liang brought up the idea of hiring a financial analyst as a permanent staff member, which is one of her platform goals.
She believes that a permanent analyst will help the AMS provide “proper reports.”
“As a student when you’re reading the document this year, it’s just telling you what’s happening this year [with] no analysis being done … [and] there’s no point of writing a report if it’s inconsistent each year or taking data from different places,” she said.
In her closing statement, Liang reiterated her hope of continuing the projects she’s worked on this year and introducing new automate processes to modernize the AMS Finance portfolio.
“I’m hoping to leave a foundation that will transform the entirety of student interaction with the AMS, which is to simplify the current administrative process and make room for automation,” said Liang.
“I believe this push towards modernization and digitization will benefit both students, staff and students in the long term as reimbursements and student financial aid will be optimized for our future.”