When the Student Activities Council Finance Committee released its report vindicating the International Affairs Association of fund misuse last month, it concluded that the Undergraduate Assembly Budget Committee's inaccurate findings could be attributed to "administrative accounting errors." But the administrator in question, Financial Administrator of Student Activities Lynn Moller, denies any wrongdoing. Moller explained that checking the books of student groups is not part of her job description. She said she is in charge of screening for University concerns, not fund misuse. "It would be great if someone in this office had time to do that," she added. "But that is not generally the case." SAC Steering Chairperson and College senior Graham Robinson agreed that the blame does not rest with Moller. He said the only way the Office of Student Life could provide SAC with perfect books is if they had three more budget administrators. And the money to fund this would have to come out of students' General Fee. "To some extent, I think we should accept less than perfect oversight because it would cost so much to get perfect oversight," Robinson said. But he added that SAC could not conceivably come up with perfect books either. And there are a lot of problems inherent in the SAC structure that allow for situations in which fund misuse can occur, according to Robinson. For example, once a group gets allocated funds for a particular category, it is allowed to spend it on anything that falls in that category -- whether or not it was something for which funds had been requested. "The only thing that is basically checked is is that you bought something that fits under that category," Robinson said. "You wouldn't be reimbursed for a taxi under office expense. But other than that, there is no checking. "In fact, oftentimes groups end up running a slight deficit in a category before reimbursements stop being issued," Robinson added. "And that is sort of the nature of SAC debt." He added that groups probably know SAC is not checking up on them. "I think that groups generally have the feeling that SAC is a mess right now?so it is possible that some groups are taking advantage of it," he said. Robinson added that he thought this was what would be uncovered when the IAA audit started. He said the only way SAC could increase oversight is if they could have more office space and several work-study students, which he expects will occur with the opening of the Perelman Quadrangle. Another source of SAC inefficiency is that groups currently have to fill out a form if they want their outside revenue to be retained instead of being moved into a central account under SAC's jurisdiction. "Apparently a lot of students forget to fill out the form, and I doubt that this is because they don't want the money," Robinson said. There is currently $473,000 in this account. Robinson said SAC is trying to determine how much of this was contributed by SAC groups. Robinson said many organizations are justifiably unhappy with SAC. "They basically go in [to OSL] and say, 'I am going to get screwed no matter what I do here, I am not going to get the amount of money, but I guess I ought to try' and feel that they [should] just throw the receipts in this office and see what comes out," he said. Another problem with the SAC structure is that many groups have been alternating their SAC representatives on a frequent basis. "The biggest problem is that many groups are just transferring the SAC meeting to a different person each month which creates no continuity in the meetings," Robinson said. "And as a result of that most people have no idea what is going on at the meetings." This makes it difficult for SAC to operate because the body is constantly relearning SAC procedure each meeting, he explained. Currently, groups lose SAC recognition after missing two meetings. This puts SAC in a difficult situation because many feel it is not fair to punish the next year's board of an organization for the mistakes of the current year. Students have also complained that SAC reimbursement forms are confusing. IAA President and College senior Brendan Cahill attested to this fact, claiming that the forms led the UA Budget Committee to jump to false conclusions about the IAA. "There is confusion because the forms aren't clear, which leads to some sort of discrepancy between what you wanted to pay for and what SAC paid for," he said. Robinson said changes are currently being made to all the reimbursement forms, as a result of the confusion with the IAA case.Comments powered by Disqus
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