Editorial: Execute the external audit

After initially supporting an external audit of the Student Association accounting books, the University has pulled its support from such a move. Arguing the accounting errors – including numerous inaccuracies, with an allocation to the Residence Hall Association and mysterious allocations in the tens of thousands of dollars – came as a result of human error, the University has claimed an external audit was unnecessary. However, given a questionable accounting history, the SA needs to undergo an external audit as an important step toward restoring student trust in the organization. An internal audit is a good step but, given the number of financial issues at stake – including possible problems with Student and Academic Support Services budgeting – an external audit as first proposed is necessary.

Earlier this semester this page argued that in order to raise the student activities fee, the SA must develop an infrastructure of accountability to ensure it could be trusted to handle an operating budget of more than $1 million. Given the organization’s history, this did not seem like an unreasonable request. Last year, the SA initially could not account for a missing $50,000 in its accounting but eventually found it. Several SA officials were also implicated in using student funds for a private party. Executing an audit would help correct existing bookkeeping errors and help ensure proper accounting in the future.

Executing an external audit would improve the SA in several capacities. Given this, it is perplexing to consider why the University would pull its support from the endeavor. The University’s arguments for canceling the audit are suspicious at best. Canceling the audit gives rise to suspicions that the University is afraid that executing the procedure could expose serious problems in its own accounting.

The growing number of student organizations on campus necessitates an expansion of the funding available for such groups. In order to placate the student concerns expressed in the failure of this year’s fee increase referendum, the SA must take further steps toward correcting its finances. SA President Kris Hart – who should be commended for his continued support of the audit – and President-elect Omar Woodard must ensure that the University makes good on its promise. The University should fulfill its original promise – indeed, its responsibility – to support the largest student group on campus.

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