Updated: Nov. 21, 2022 at 5:38 p.m.
Student Association leaders issued a scathing report Saturday finding SA Sen. Ian Ching, ESIA-U and the chair of the finance committee, has failed to perform his duties managing student organization funding, leading to delays and accusations of bias within the allocations process.
The report alleges Ching delayed the launch of the application for spring SA funding to student organizations by about two months while providing preferential treatment for his friends in other student organizations, like GWU Esports, as part of five bylaw violations relating to finance deadlines and decorum. The report calls for the SA Senate to censure and immediately remove Ching from his position as chair of the finance committee.
The senate could vote on a resolution, based on the report, that would remove Ching from his post as the chair of the finance committee and require he publicly apologize for his misconduct as soon as Monday night, when the senate next meets. The Governance and Nominations Committee, which addresses censure cases, drafted a resolution Sunday based on the report submitted by the Office of Senate Legal Counsel.
“It is beyond anything I’ve seen in the Student Association and requires its immediate attention,” Senate Legal Counsel Juan Carlos Mora, who authored the report, said to the committee Sunday.
In a statement to The Hatchet, Ching said the report does not include his perspective. He said he “never hid” his support for some student organizations, but he has not interfered in decisions about funding for those organizations.
“I have served as a student organization treasurer and e-board member for three years, and I am the only member of the finance committee who has had experience dealing with the finance committee from the other side,” he said.
Ching said the “over-regulation” of funding policies creates opportunities for mistakes and hindrances.
“At the end of the day, I will continue to do my job diligently until the senate renders a decision,” he said. “I will seek the confidence of the finance committee, and continue to call and preside [over] general allocations meetings, to ensure that we can meet the needs of student organizations on campus.”
The report states student organization leaders have raised complaints about Ching to administrators, including a brazen disregard of rules requiring him to familiarize student organizations with the allocations process.
When Ching hosted a required meeting earlier this month for student organization leaders to familiarize themselves with the budget allocations process, he filmed himself greeting student leaders before quickly scrolling through a 13-page allocations handbook, according to the report.
“We will now proceed by looking over this,” he said while scrolling through the handbook for roughly two seconds before all the pages could load. “Done. You are all dismissed.”
Ching’s orientation meeting lasted a total of 18 seconds.
“The OSLC was shocked with the gross negligence demonstrated by Senator Ching’s actions,” the report states.
The report features depositions from three SA members regarding Ching’s conduct, emails from student organization leaders expressing confusion about budget allocations and a memorandum from SA Vice President Yan Xu critiquing the finance committee.
Nathan Nguyen, the director of the SA’s legislative budget office, said Ching ignored the SA’s requirements for the timeline of the allocations process as part of his delay of the allocation application’s launch. Nguyen said the deadline for student organization allocations typically falls on Oct. 31 but was pushed to Nov. 27 this year because Ching failed to open the application until early November – about two months later than normal.
Nguyen said Ching would hear senators’ motions favorable toward granting funding for student organizations that contained several of his friends, like GWU Esports, during finance committee meetings. GW Engage shows Ching is a member of GWU Esports.
Nguyen said he is “in full support” of the OSLC’s recommendations to remove Ching as chair of the finance committee.
“This is an issue that directly impacts the student body in arguably the most important function of the Student Association: funding student organizations,” he said in an email.
This fall, GWU Esports has requested $46,403.90 in co-sponsorship requests, receiving $7,692.69 in allocations including $3,000 for chairs, $500 for an OW Finals Watch party and $1,000 for a league entry fee, according to SA finance committee data.
Last year, GWU Esports requested $123,832.82 in SA general allocation funding for monitors, headsets and gaming hardware and software. The finance committee, which Ching did not chair at the time, allocated about $7,100 to the organization in the spring.
The finance committee has approved 12 of GWU Esports’ 17 processed requests this fall. The committee has only denied two allocation requests under Ching’s leadership, which began partway through the fall.
Students pay a $3 per class-credit fee that makes up the majority of the SA’s budget. The SA in turn allocates its budget, which last year surpassed $1 million, to fund student organization funding requests.
SA Sen. Linsi Goodin, CCAS-G, Ching’s vice chair on the finance committee and a self-described friend of Ching, accused him of showing favoritism toward student organizations during the financial allocations process by “silencing” motions he personally disliked, which violated senate decorum.
Goodin said Ching “actively” ignored parliamentary procedure and points of order and selectively decided when to honor senators’ motions in finance committee meetings.
“I have several instances of this, and it is unfair to student organizations that are not treated the same relative to each other,” she said in an email to the Office of Senate Legal Counsel late last month.
Xu sent a memorandum to senators Friday stating Ching has led a “haste process” in the finance committee that has created “barriers” to SA funding for student organizations, though he did not name Ching directly. Xu said the finance committee failed to publish the schedule for spring student organization allocations and end the application period by their respective deadlines and announced an updated allocations schedule.
The finance committee should publish the allocations schedule by Sept. 30, according to the SA’s bylaws. The schedule was not published until Nov. 7.
Applications for allocations are currently due Nov. 27, pushing the senate’s consideration of general allocations from Dec. 5 to Dec. 18.
He said the finance committee did not advertise the general allocation orientation sessions, which are intended to educate students how to request SA funds.
“The delayed general allocation process, which is a clear and unquestionable violation of our bylaws, caused this haste process that, in my opinion, does not serve the student body but creates barriers to access to the financial support from the Student Association,” Xu said in his email to senators.
The SA’s co-sponsorship tracker on its website has not been updated since April.
Ching has arrived late or designated a proxy for four of the six full senate meetings this semester.
While senators voted on the Mount Vernon Meeting Act last month, which would have ended the requirement for an annual SA meeting on the Mount Vernon Campus, Ching said in a Zoom chat during the meeting that any senator “not raising their hand is getting capped,” according to the report. Ching later apologized to another senator for the comment, saying he didn’t intend it as a threat, according to the report.
The OSLC suggested that the senate censure Ching for his comments due to “his failure to discharge the duties and responsibilities of his office.”
This post has been updated to include SA finance committee data on allocations to GWU Esports this fall, data which was not initially available because of a lack of updates to the finance committee’s public website.