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Does MUB Board receive special treatment?

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Does MUB Board receive special treatment?

Anonymous, Lode Writer

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Last week, The Lode ran an article on Film Board and their low budget compared to other special budgetary groups. While their budget, and that of other SBGs, can be found on the corresponding MTU involvement link, it is required that SBGs publish how their budget is spent, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case for MUB Board.

The Memorial Union Board received $64,000 this year from the university. This figure was not obtained from their involvement link, but rather from an email sent to the heads of special budgetary groups and forwarded to the author by Morgan Davis. The amount of money that the MUB Board receives is not available on their involvement link, much less how it is allocated. Unlike Film Board, The Lode and WMTU, the MUB Board is completely opaque in how they spend their money and how much they have.

USG, the Undergraduate Student Government, determines how much money special budgetary groups get from the school. Jesse Stapleton is the advisor to USG as well as the director of Student Activities (in USG’s constitution, the director of Student Activities is also the advisor to USG). Notably, Jesse Stapleton is also the advisor to MUB Board. Thus, she is the advisor to both an organization that handles the division of funds between different organizations, and one of the organizations that has these funds apportioned to them.

USG and the MUB Board are also affiliated through K-Day. Though it is an event run by Student Activities, MUB Board members are the only ones permitted to hand out merchandise such as cups with USG printed on them. The visibility afforded by this could be shared by other student organizations.

We sat down with some current and past presidents of Film Board, a special budgetary group, to discuss this apparent conflict of interest. Wesley McGowan, former president of Film Board, said, “Anyone working in the Student Activities Office should not be able to be an advisor for student orgs. It’s unfair.” According to some present at the interview, there is also an overlap between the members of the MUB Board and USG; a few students are in both organizations.

McGowan had the following anecdote to share about his interactions with Stapleton, “When I was a student, a lot of other black students on campus were talking about how MUB Board doesn’t do diverse programming. I emailed them asking about this and they said they’d put me on the schedule. They said, ‘Oh, can you come to next week’s meeting?” I get there and they say ‘Oh, we didn’t have you on the itinerary. Sorry.” Now me and a friend are at this meeting. We wanted to talk to the org. Jesse Stapleton kept shutting us down from talking to the org. After that she said we could wait ‘til after the meeting.”

After the meeting had concluded, Stapleton spoke to the two students. According to McGowan, because she had refused to listen to what they had to say, she took diverse to mean varied rather than representing minority groups on campus. She brought up laser tag, Stuff-A-Husky and pumpkin carving. “She wouldn’t let us talk. After that meeting, my friend and I weren’t angry. She went around saying ‘two angry black students’ interrupted her meeting.” This was told to McGowan by an unnamed staff member. “We weren’t angry. We just wanted to know why they weren’t doing more diverse programming. I could understand if we were angry. She should’ve just said ‘students.’ She didn’t have to throw race into it at all. For that alone, I don’t think she should be involved in any student decisions in student orgs if you’re going to make decisions like that.” He continues, “I feel like there’s not enough diversity in MUB Board’s programming to represent Michigan Tech as a whole. It needs to start somewhere. If it doesn’t start with the organization that’s supposed to represent me, then where does it start?”

Film Board members asked to express their lack of animosity towards any of the students in USG or MUB Board. When contacted by a USG representative about any problems, the current president of Film Board, Morgan Davis, responded that they had “no concerns with USG, except for Jesse Stapleton.”

The Memorial Union Board’s budget has become swollen over the years. In the past, there existed another special budgetary group called the Student Entertainment Board (SBE), referred to by Davis as “the MUB Board of the Rozsa.” The SEB was in charge of the Winter Carnival comedian among other shows. Under the previous director of Student Activities, this privilege and the corresponding funds for it were transferred to the MUB Board. Without a budget, the SEB faded away and eventually failed to renew their SBG status.

The MUB Board also helps run late night programming. This used to be an entirely separate entity and, according to some students, should remain that way. McGowan and the current Film Board president agree that MUB Board is shown “blatant favoritism.”

However, Jesse Stapleton is “not one of the people who votes” on fund allocations, according to freshman and member of USG Harley Merkaj.

If nothing else, the way that the MUB Board spends its money should be displayed on their involvement link. Wesley McGowan comments, “I don’t know what MUB Board does. MUB Board has their name on all these things, but I can’t see what they’ve done every year. I don’t know how much it costs them.” Morgan Davis adds, “I would understand if the Pistol Club, which gets like $500 a year, didn’t have their budget on there. However, MUB Board gets $60,000 a year, which is more than any other student organization.”


6 Responses to “Does MUB Board receive special treatment?”

  1. Prefer not to say on February 5th, 2019 5:37 pm

    Always good to see an article ripping J Stapes. She is tearing this school down and has been for a very long time. Glad to see someone speak truth to power.

  2. A C Pizzi on February 5th, 2019 5:43 pm

    As a publicly-funded institution, it seems to me that all financial records for funds administered by the University are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Perhaps the Lode and/or other concerned students should file a FOIA request for the past few years.

  3. Lee D Matthews on February 5th, 2019 8:15 pm

    I am an alumnus of MTU. As such, I am concerned that the spending of these funds appears to have no oversight. There should not be a question of what the funds are being spent for. When I was a student there, organizations had to specify what the funds they were asking for would be used for, and also were audited to see if they were said activities, something else, or remained in the org’s coffers. This is simple accountability and should be expected by every organization using funds appropriated from the university, no matter what those uses are. If MUB Board is not being held to this standard, then the first thing that should be done is a suspension of said funds until they are held to the standard and, secondly, a process put in place to ensure this doesn’t become an issue in the future.

    This is as much a protection for the organization as it is the university. If the org has records as to what the funds are being used for then it would be much harder for them to be accused or suspected of misappropriating those funds. As it currently stands, how is someone to know without performing an audit and how are they able to request funds in the future when they can’t demonstrate how they have been used in the past?

  4. Daniel LaForest on February 5th, 2019 8:43 pm

    I’m an Tech & USG alumnus (’15). Thank you to whoever wrote this article, and I’m sorry that they felt the need to speak anonymously about this.

    I helped to re-write USG’s constitution, and in it we tried to remove the Director of Student Activities title from anything in governing documents. I believe one place that we could not was the SBGs, as the Admin keep overruling changes there. The advisor for USG is something that is dictated by Board of Trustees policies, and left to the discretion of the Vice President for Student Affairs. People should be asking Les Cook about these conflicts of interest and if he can do something about them, at least while the Advisor of USG is also the advisor of MUB Board.

    We had similar issues when Joe Cooper was the advisor and he was heavily pushing USG to give OAP (which he oversaw) large amounts of money from he reserve fund. I also saw the writing on the wall for what you described with MUB Board and SEB. It’s difficult to take USG seriously when University Admin treats the money like a bank for their own pet projects. There was a complaint that Student Orgs treated them like it was as well, but honestly it was University Admin that had that mindset the most, and apparently still does. (This doesn’t write off those projects completely, but there was plenty of hostility from the Advisor for even asking questions about where the money was going and why)

    The MUB Board issues stem from other Universities having a board separate from their student governments for event planning and funding. I too appreciated MUB Board’s ability to plan events, but if they’re using their $64,000 budget in at least some part to co-sponsor other organizations, that money should go back to USG to be allocated to those organizations to begin with. At some point, too, you have to ask what other events could be funded to other student organizations with some of that money too. Of course, if USG does not stay diverse then they too will fail at adequately identifying needs on campus.

    SBGs are given more freedom to use their money how they wish, so if MUB Board is allowed to handout things with their name on it, other SBGs should be able to as well. In the end though, if they have enough money to give handouts time & time again then that’s another sign they have too much money.

    Ultimately, nothing will change unless organizations like the Lode keep publishing articles like this, so thank you. I encourage you all to go to USG meetings and try to convince the body that they can overrule SBG budgets, and they should use their power to do so once in a while. Otherwise, University Admin will continue to walk right over other student organizations.

    USG could also take away some of the ability of SBGs to give handouts, potentially making a process where USG approval would be needed. In the end, USG has more power than they realize to help curb some of these concerns if they wanted to.

    Anyway, these are just some rambling thoughts of from an alumnus that has absolutely no power here. Best of luck to you all, and I encourage you all to keep discussions like this going forward and keeping Student Affairs, USG, and MUB Board all honest. I encourage students that are on campus to get involved and change things like this for the better.

  5. Jason Hexor on February 5th, 2019 9:03 pm

    Considering that The Lode often gets linked with the Student News Brief emails, I’ll be surprised if there’s no repercussion. One org shouldn’t be targeting another like this, especially in an article with many many things are taken out of context to make both people and an organization seem devious. Very, very little is true and with the amount of misquotes, you’re just making yourselves a potential target.

  6. Ethan Klein on February 6th, 2019 10:17 am

    I’m totally for transparency. I think that would be a big improvement. However, this article lacks serious details in why MUB Board continues to receive those monies as well as why SEB no longer receives those monies. SEB performance dwindled and over the course of several years lost their rights to the money. MUB Board put immense time and effort into their work in order to earn the money. Additionally, SBGs allocations has nothing to do with Jessie at USG and is based heavily on performance data for events. MUB Board does huge amounts of data collection which is presented to USG in order to prove that they earned the previous year’s money and that they deserve the next allocation. I would hope a revision of this article would be posted with more details and research into the source and process for the funds, because as it stands, this article is incredibly selective in the information it provides and does not provide unbiased and fact based data. Additionally, it does not provide contact with the accused individual (Jessie Stapleton) in order to seek both sides of the story. As it stands this article should be filed under ‘opinion’ and not the ‘news’ catagory.

    For disclosure, I was a former member of MUB board but have not participated in 2-3 years.

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