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Student modifies SGA funding check, prohibited from filing funding requests

A student has been prohibited from filing a funding application with student government for one month after the student increased the amount on a check for a funding request without approval. Photo illustration by Bonnie Cash, Photo Editor

A student has been prohibited from filing a funding application with student government for one month, after former Director of Finance James Hart said at the April 28 senate meeting that the student increased the amount on a check for a funding request without approval.

Hart declined to disclose the student’s name or the organization that the request originated from, and said the senate would have needed to close the meeting to the public in order for that information to be released.

“It is concerning students can just walk into Financial Services and modify a check request without our approval,” Hart said at the April 28 senate meeting.

Hart said during the meeting that the incident happened due to a miscommunication.

“From what we understand of the student’s statement, it seems like he was asked to come in and check it for accuracy and his understanding was that the check request was supposed to be for more,” Hart said at the senate meeting.

Hart said that the funding request was passed to Financial Services, which is when the student involved increased the final amount on the check by $150 without notifying anyone in student government.

The allocations operating procedures had been amended March 31 to add more accountability for students and organizations that receive student government funding. These amendments include establishing consequences for students and organizations that commit infractions.

“If somebody lies to us and if something goes south on one of the funding applications, we can hold them responsible,” Hart said at the meeting. “That’s what we’re doing.”

According to the allocations operating procedures, the consequences are based on the severity of an infraction. In this case, the executive council recommended to the senate that the student involved be prevented from filing funding applications with student government for one month.

“I think a one-month ban is way too light of a sanction on someone who’s committing fraud,” Sarah Tabsh, who was sworn in as the new vice president May 1, said at the senate meeting. “I think it should be a year or maybe a semester, at least. I think a month is just a tap on the hand.”

Joe DeCasperis, a Dodge College of Film and Media Arts senator, disagreed with Tabsh and said that a one-month suspension was a reasonable consequence.

“I think that because we don’t have all the pieces to the story, it would not be fair or right to put words in someone else’s mouth – either the financial office or the student,” DeCasperis said in the senate meeting. “We sometimes fund less than the number that they provide, and if that person doesn’t know, then it shouldn’t be something that they should be punished (for).”

The error was caught when the check was being processed through Financial Services. This is when Hart was notified, so there was no financial impact on student government, he said. Hart then talked to the student involved, he said, and contacted Financial Services to find out what happened, but had not received a response as of the April 28 senate meeting.

Representatives from the Financial Services department did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Panther.

Six senators opposed the motion to approve the one-month suspension and two abstained, but the motion was passed.

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