The editors of the now-defunct GW Independent said Marvin Center officials removed property that belongs to the newspaper from its office in the student center after the publication folded last month.
The GW Independent, formerly known as Independence Magazine, ceased publication after the first week of school. Last Friday, former editors Jeff Baxter and Skip Oliva found that some equipment was missing when they went to clear out their Marvin Center office.
“We went to the office to remove some remaining equipment and personal belongings,” Oliva said. “We found that two computers, a camera and several other items from one of our cabinets were missing.”
The editors said the equipment was purchased by the staff or donated to the paper, not purchased with Student Association allocations.
“No equipment was purchased with SA money,” Oliva said. “The computers were donations and the camera and other stuff were Baxter’s.”
When The Independent folded, questions were raised about whether any of the group’s equipment was SA property.
Mike Petron, Marvin Center Governing Board chair, said former SA President Damian McKenna, now a MCGB member, said he vaguely remembered the SA giving money to Independence Magazine two years ago for computers. However, he was not certain about the allocations.
Petron said he looked into the matter and spoke to Joan Mitchell, the principal accounts clerk for the Student Activities Center. Petron said Mitchell was unable to find inventory records.
According to the SA’s financial bylaws, if a student group uses funds given to it by the SA for the purchase of equipment, that equipment becomes the property of the SA if the student group folds.
“Upon dissolution of a student organization . the item(s) shall revert to Student Association ownership and authority,” according to the bylaws.
“The way the bylaw works is if a student group uses SA money for purchasing equipment, the equipment will revert to the SA,” said graduate Sen. J.P. Blackford (SEAS), chair of the SA Senate’s Finance Committee. “But if the group uses their own outside funds, then there is no issue with the SA.”
Petron said the equipment was removed because the newspaper’s office needed to be cleared. Oliva had agreed to clear out the office space so another student group could move in.
Petron said when The Independent did not vacate the office within a week, he spoke to Mike Brown, director of facilities in the Marvin Center. Petron said he was told if the office was not cleared by Sept. 14, the equipment would be moved out of the office so another group could move in.
“(Petron) said that they were just clearing out the space, but not everything was taken,” Oliva said.
He said he thought the only equipment taken were items the SA thought might be its property.
Oliva said The Independent’s SA allocations were used to defray printing costs, not purchase equipment.
Petron said because inventory records cannot be found, Independent staffers can retrieve their equipment from Brown’s office where it has been stored.
“It was a big mistake, but it was resulting from incompetence,” Oliva said. “They acted before they thought things through.”