BSU overspending results in loss of funding, upcoming sanctionsBy Matthew Ahasay • April 19, 2012 • Category: News
The Segregated Fee Allocation Commission acted on an audit of the Black Student Union March 8 and found that the organization had overspent their 2010-2011 allocations by $2,116.55.
The resulting action was the suspension of the BSU’s funding for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, estimated at $17,000 and a fine of $529.13, 25 percent of the overspent funds.
There were no members of the BSU present.
Beyond the incurred fine, the BSU was referred to the Student Organizations Committee for a suspension hearing.
The hearing was held April 12, and a motion for suspension was made but did not pass. Instead of suspension, the SOC opted to recommend the BSU be put on probation for the rest of the semester and the next two academic years.
Only BSU President Rahji Nelson was in attendance.
Student Organizations Director Joe Kluever expanded on the SOC’s recommendations at Monday’s Student Senate meeting.
While leading the discussion, Kluever said the BSU must “check in” a number of times with the SOC regarding the organization’s financial updates and growth goals while on probation. If the BSU fails to abide by the terms of their probation, a second SOC hearing will be held regarding further disciplinary actions.
In addition, Assistant Director of the Pioneer Involvement Center Valerie Wetzel will become the organization’s interim advisor throughout probation, although the BSU may add another advisor of their choice.
In order for these sanctions to be enacted, they must be voted on; first by the SOC, then Student Senate and finally the recommendations will be sent to Interim Chancellor for Student Affairs Joanne Wilson, who must approve them.
The Student Senate is discussing the possibility of adding community service to the recommended probationary guidelines. Final discussion and voting will take place Monday, April 23.
Wetzel said she is well versed in advising troubled organizations and is optimistic that the BSU can bounce back.
“I can give ideas, but it’s their group” Wetzel said, “I’m just trying to help build a frame work.”
Not everyone is as optimistic or as content with the recommendations thus far. LAE Senator Ryan Parr has been outspoken regarding the severity of the proposed sanctions. “I think we are holding their (the BSU’s) hands” Parr said, “ I think there is an incredibly low amount of leadership and responsibility being shown.”
Parr continued, “I believe if this would have happened to another organization they would have been kicked off campus.”
Parr maintained that the severity of the offense and the BSU being on track to overspend again this semester is the basis for his remarks.
Kluever reasoned during Senate Monday that the high cost of Ebony Weekend and transition within the BSU caused the overspending.
Ebony Weekend is the BSU’s main use of funds. Created in 2003, Ebony Weekend’s purpose, according to creator Carl Wesely, is to gather people cross generationally and create dialog concerning issues in the black community. The BSU hosts musical artists, dances and keynote speakers during Ebony Weekend drawing people from all over the Midwest.
The offense occurred before any of the current BSU officers or administrators were in office.
“We have no idea where things fell through the cracks,” Wetzel said. “SUFAC, SOC, (Wilson) and I agree that BSU is a viable organization with potential.”
Wetzel’s reasoning and the state of the BSU when the overspending occurred was taken into account when SOC met for the suspension hearing.
Wetzel said that in order for the BSU to get back on track it needs to create a purpose or mission statement. “It’s a rebuilding phase,” Wetzel said. “They have to figure out what their purpose is.”
The BSU did not respond to Exponent reporters on the matter.