Checkbooks and Balances
In this week’s issue, Generation examines some of the ways the undergraduate Student Association has been spending student activity fees. We are not trying to “slam” the SA, however it does seem to us that, in some cases, SA officials have been careless in spending the students’ money.
We focused on SA officials spending about $39,000 on trips for orientation and conferences. We’re not trying to say no one should go to conferences. Leadership, communication, and budget management workshops could certainly be helpful to SA members and could benefit the entire UB community. But when other students are paying the bill for SA officers, shouldn’t they spend the money as frugally as possible?
How much does the average student benefit from an SA staff orientation trip to Cedar Point that cost about $17,000? Why did SA have to spend another $11,000 to send a contingent including President George Pape and Vice President Jocelyn Tejeda to a Disney resort in Florida for a conference, when it had already spent that much to send Pape, Tejeda, Treasurer Anthony Burgio, and others to the same conference on the beach in San Diego?
We had to wonder, would students consider some of these spending decisions reasonable? Since Pape, Tejeda, and Burgio already enjoy student fee paychecks of $10,000 a year, can’t they pay their own cell phone bills? Or buy their own Christmas presents?
We have been trying to get to the bottom of some of these questions for several months. Unfortunately, SA officials are paying a Buffalo law firm, at some hundred-dollar-an-hour rate, to try to stop us from looking at public records detailing how they’ve been spending your student fees.
Frankly, we’re baffled as to why the SA would spend student fees to prevent students from knowing more about their own money. But we’re going to keep pursuing those records and keep working to get you answers. In the meantime, we hope that you’ll be able to make a more informed decision in the upcoming SA election and be more aware of what happens to the money that’s supposed to work for all of us.
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Last week, Generation erroneously reported that Pape, Tejeda and Burgio have their tuition paid for by student fees. They do not, and Generation sincerely regrets the error.