Last semester, this page argued that despite the obvious need for more student group funding, supporting a unilateral increase in the per-credit Student Association fee would be irresponsible given the SA’s questionable track record when handling such funds. Since then, University officials discovered a serious discrepancy in the University’s SA accounting books in which $52,000 were allocated to SA President Kris Hart for “miscellaneous expenditures,” prompting SA officials to call for an external audit. Because this audit has yet to take place, coupled with the poor planning put into this increase, this page cannot support the referendum at this time.
The latest controversy, coupled with the SA’s scandalous past in abusing student funds, should cause students to question whether or not it is wise to trust the SA to handle a budget double what it is now. In addition to executing the audit, the SA must create an infrastructure of accountability to ensure that such abuses could not take place under the new system. One potential step would be to appoint an individual responsible during the year for ensuring the SA’s books are in order. Such a position would go a long way in giving students peace of mind that their money is not being misallocated or lost.
Regardless of the fact that the SA has proven itself untrustworthy in handling student funds, the referendum itself shows a lack of planning. Raising the fee by $1 now does not ensure that the $2 fee will be adequate in the future. The SA should have used this referendum as a means not only to increase the amount of money available to student groups now, but also to make sure it is responsive to inflation rates in the future.
This page recognizes that, because a majority of student groups support getting more money, the referendum has a likelihood of passing. If this is the case, the SA should enact these changes in good faith. As long as the potential for misuse exists, more scandals could potentially surface, and these scandals merely exacerbate the serious student disinterest in our student government.