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MUB Board and USG weigh in on controversy

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MUB Board and USG weigh in on controversy

A graphic put together by MUB Board illustrating their budget carryover from year to year.

A graphic put together by MUB Board illustrating their budget carryover from year to year.

A graphic put together by MUB Board illustrating their budget carryover from year to year.

A graphic put together by MUB Board illustrating their budget carryover from year to year.

Mason Liagre, News Editor

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Recently, The Lode ran an article titled “Does the MUB Board receive special treatment?” This week, The Lode gave involved parties an opportunity to explain their perspective. The Lode met with Jessie Stapleton as well as Jack Hendrick, president of MUB Board and Max Sexauer, president of the Undergraduate Student Government.

An explanation was given as to why MUB Board sees such a large carryover in their budget each year while the money they are allotted stays the same or increases. Jessie Stapleton, an advisor to MUB Board and the Undergraduate Student Government, said “There’s actually a carryover that’s planned for intentionally. It’s because we don’t get our SAF allocation until the fall, and we book acts and events for the start of the school year, including O-week and Welcome Week.” In other words, there’s a short period early in the school year during which MUB Board runs some events. They use their carryover from the last school year to pay for these events. Since the exact events put on aren’t known at the time of the budget hearings, the money set aside for them is not specifically labeled. However, Stapleton or Hendrick did not touch on how the amount of carryover money is determined.

Sexauer detailed how money flows from students to organizations on campus. “Essentially, all the money that comes towards funding both the special budgetary groups (SBGs) and all the other registered student organizations comes from one place, which is the Student Activity Fee. That’s a fee that’s charged to undergraduate and graduate students every semester. So undergraduate students, 100 percent of the fee that they pay goes into a pool and 50 percent of the fee graduate students pay goes into that same pool. So you have 50 percent of graduate fees and 100 percent of undergraduate fees. And that pool is split up- on a different basis every single year- the pool is split up on a basis where about 55 percent of that money goes toward registered student organizations and about 45 percent of that goes towards SBGs, and “traditions” on campus- things like homecoming.” The division of the part of the money that goes to special budgetary groups is proposed by a committee, which sends their proposal to the Undergraduate Student Government to be approved. “In the SBG committee there’s a faculty, staff, two USG students, and a GSG student,” says Jessie Stapleton. “I’m the one who organizes the meetings,” she says regarding the SBG committee. “I recuse myself from votes involving organizations I’m involved in.”

Stapleton is also an advisor to the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council. She primarily takes an administrative role as Director of Student Activities and advisor to MUB Board. “There’s expectations for oversight of the office,” she explains regarding the former. As the latter, she schedules events and contacts performers. Stapleton says about the MUB, “I generally go to the meetings and I generally sit in on E-board (executive board) if I’m available.”

When asked about the interaction she had with Wesley McGowan outlined in an article published January 31, Stapleton declined to comment. Jack Hendrick had this to say: “I don’t recall being there from memory… however the minutes show they were given an opportunity to speak during discussion.” McGowan insisted that though time was set aside for him according to the official record, he wasn’t given adequate chance to say what he wanted. Hendrick adds, “The following meeting, the board discussed it in a closed session.”

“We as MUB Board, we’re students, so we can’t directly deal with our accounts. That has to go through the Director of Student Activities so she can allocate money. We do all of the voting,” remarks Jack Hendrick regarding Jessie Stapleton. “We also use her for advising on experience, and what I mean by that is we’ve only been here tops for four years. So we have ideas that we want to try and a lot of times people in the past have tried it, so we use Jessie and ask her what kind of tips or tricks we should change prior to doing the event, so we don’t make the same mistakes that other students did in the past.”

Hendrick and Sexauer weighed in on the possibility of a bias inherent in someone advising both USG and a special budgetary group. Sexauer said, “When you look at in on paper, you do see that there’s a level of bias. You see that you can’t remove all potential conflicts of interest. By the same token, there’s conflicts of interest that happen up and down the whole chain of funding at the university. You could even say that it’s a conflict of interest that the United States government approves its own budget.” Jessie Stapleton isn’t the only person to have served as both a USG advisor and one to special budgetary groups. Maryann Wilcox, the current office manager and technical communications specialist for the department of electrical and computer engineering, has been financial advisor to Film Board, The Lode and USG. Sexauer adds, “In that way, it is a system where people have to be held accountable. I will say that all these people have department chairs and heads that look over them.”

Jack Hendrick has assured that the new attention on MUB Board is welcome. “One thing that we want to make clear is that MUB Board’s sole purpose is to define the student experience at Michigan Tech, and by doing that being the holders of a budget to put on events. I’m happy to… I’m actually encouraging people to ask what their money’s being used for. I would encourage them to be more investigative of all SBGs. I’m very confident of how we break our money down.” He also said “I am glad people are asking. It’d be nice to clear it up.” Prior to our first article on the issue being published, the MUB Board’s budget was not viewable to the general public or student body. This has since been amended. “We do apologize for the issue with having the budget public to everyone. It was uploaded when everyone else uploads, but as MUB members when we put it on there it shows up for us, and we didn’t go into settings to change the privacy settings. But there’s three settings, there’s members only, Michigan Tech campus only, and public.”

Article V, Section 6 of the Undergraduate Student Government bylaws concerns requirements for Student Activity Fee funding. According to Sexauer, USG is working on a new clause that will specify how special budgetary groups have to publish their budget. The MUB Board president also denied rumors that food at MUB Board meetings is paid for with their budget, which would be against university policy. “It’s typically what’s left over from catering,” he said.

1 Comment

One Response to “MUB Board and USG weigh in on controversy”

  1. Jenn on February 27th, 2019 9:10 am

    I am glad to see scrutiny being directed towards how USG allocated funds to MUB, and the conflict of interest posed by having the DIRECTOR OF STUDENT ACTIVITIES act as advisor to both the allocating body (USG) and the receiving organization (MUB) of the largest allocation given to a student org. This person also oversees Late Night Programming, which has a significant budget as well. And while this person may not have voting power, it is unrealistic to believe that they have no sway in how the students act in the organizations they advise. This needs to be addressed by the administration, this whole situation is extremely biased and inequitable.

    Look at how many MUB Board students are also involved with LNP, and USG. Follow the dollars, they all lead back to the Director of Student Activities.

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MUB Board and USG weigh in on controversy