Friday, Nov. 13th, 2015 ASUWT organized a meeting with ASUWT Finance Director, Bronwyn Clarke; Vice Chancellor of Student & Enrollment Services, Dr. Cedric Howard; Dean of Student Engagement, Ed Mirecki; Service and Activities Fee Committee (SAFC) Compliance Officer, Kathleen Farrell; ASUWT President, Sophie Nop; and Chancellor Pagano, to voice concerns and discuss SAFC following unapproved bylaws. At that time, ASUWT members were uncertain if the SAFC 2011 bylaws —which were posted to the committee’s website since November 2015— were in effect. ASUWT found no record of the Board of Regents’ approval for SAFC 2011 bylaws.
Although an identical version of the 2011 bylaws were approved by the chancellor at that time and submitted to the regents, no official vote of those bylaws were cast by the board. Previous ASUWT members attempted to raise questions about this concern. Due to the administration’s failure to address the concerns and questions, various meetings were scheduled.
The Nov. 13th meeting concluded with Pagano’s cabinet recommending the SAF committee operate using the 2011 bylaws through June of 2016, “at which time revised bylaws would be submitted for the Regents’ review and possible approval,” says cabinet members.
Mirecki and Pagano also recommended that ASUWT and SAFC “operate above the expectations related to ‘conflict of interest’ outlined in both the 2006 and 2011 bylaws.”
One issue causing concern for employees within Student Affairs was how the approved 2006 bylaws affected their employees. According to Nop, if the committee followed the 2006 bylaws, students funded by SAFC could not sit on the committee due to a perceived conflict of interest when allocating funds.
Since the cabinets recommendation, ASUWT members organized several meetings with constituents involved with the bylaws. On Dec. 3rd, ASUWT executives, SAFC members, and administration gathered to discuss SAFC’s use of unapproved bylaws from 2011 and what steps to take moving forward.
“As student representatives, ASUWT had a difficult time disagreeing with administration, but [we have an obligation to students and upholding state law.] Because this is not the first time ASUWT discovered this mishap…ASUWT continued to have meetings to make sure that, this time, a resolution will be passed. Administration and students have a plan to work together to finally have a resolution, and work to make sure that students are aware of how their student fees are being spent,” says President Nop.
According to Nop, student government discovered that the 2011 bylaws are inaccurate because the Board of Regents didn’t approve the laws. After discovering the bylaw mishap early November, Nop brought it to the attention of the student regent, the secretary of the Board of Regents, and Pagano via email.
“The 2006 bylaws were the only bylaws approved by the Board of Regents; this was confirmed by the Board of Regents and chancellor Pagano. The next [step] was trying to figure out how students, the university, and administration could work together to see which bylaws are the ones we are going to move forward with,” says Nop.
“As we move forward, there should be clear understanding on which bylaws to use because it affects students and roughly two million dollars of student funds,” says Nop.
The 2013 bylaws needed revision before the Board of Regents could approve them. In May of 2014, the Secretary of the Board of Regents, Joan Goldblatt, and former President Pentescu exchanged several emails discussing the revision of the 2013-2014 bylaws and address his confusion. According to Goldblatt, information concerning the approval procedure for revised guidelines was sent to Pentescu, but that path wasn’t pursued by ASUWT. The Board of Regents only approval during 2013-14 was SAFC’s fee, distribution, budget and expenditures.
The 2013 bylaws were sent out to the Board of Regents in an email, but no changes were proposed or approved. Although changes were intended to be made by former President Pentescu, they weren’t “included in the recommendation action, nor were the changes described in the narrative.”
“The Board of Regents did not approve changes to the guidelines at its June 13th, 2013 meeting, leaving the earlier Guidelines [or bylaws] in effect,” says Goldblatt.
According to Director of University Affairs, John Taylor Matthews a breached trust has been created with the administration due to their failure to aid the student organization in addressing the issue and places the matter fully into the hands of the students. According to Nop, keeping students informed, maintaining transparency, and strong communication are all vital steps to move forward.