The Student Government held a Senate meeting Tuesday, Oct. 8, where it discussed Resolution 106-07, a proposal to allocate money to the EMU Gospel Choirs that was supposed to be allocated the previous school year.
The Business and Finance Committee approved an allocation of $1,443 in January and February to the EMU Gospel Choirs for the rental of Pease Auditorium and parking lots, but the funds never went through.
Business and Finance Director Mohammad Aggour said the paperwork was lost at some point while the allocation process was taking place.
“On Sept. 30, I received an email from the vice president of Gospel Choir [Michele Rich], and I reached out to her, and a couple days later we set up a meeting with myself along with President Smith and Vice President Abuzir,” Aggour said. “After speaking with her [Rich], what happened was the organization was allocated two amounts, one on Jan. 22 for the amount of $683 and the second amount Feb. 4, $760.
Those allocations were supposed to go to their account for parking for their event, and that didn’t happen. What happened was that apparently something, probably the paperwork, went all over the place and they didn’t get the funds. Their account was charged and they had a negative balance.”
In an effort to correct the mistakes that were made, Aggour and Speaker Taylor Lawrence authored a resolution to give EMU Gospel Choirs the original allocated funds plus an additional sum.
“So, after myself and President Smith spoke with Michele Rich and she confirmed that paperwork did go through her office for those two amounts,” Aggour said. “The resolution is pretty much to award them the amount plus $57 as an apology for the inconvenience, and it’s to help them for the fees, so a total of $1500 from the reserves.”
Senator Kirk Suchowesky brought it to the Senate’s attention that neither the authors or the supporters of this resolution have seeked legal guidance by Chief of Staff Leigh Greden.
“My only concern here with this resolution, and the only reason I wanted to know about Leigh looking it over, is [that] I’ve written resolutions in the past, this is a little different application context, but I was informed that, at least in my situation, I wasn’t allowed to allocate money specifically to one organization in a resolution,” Suchowesky said. “I know this is different because we are reimbursing, but that is my concern.”
Speaker Taylor Lawrence said he was unsure of whether legal guidance was pursued by President Smith during the process of brainstorming and writing the resolution.
“I got an email from Ethan, and he detailed this whole thing, and he just asked me to be the author on it just to write out the whole thing, and Mohammad would be able to speak on it,” Lawrence said.
Smith said he had not yet consulted with Greden but understands Suchowesky’s concerns and will make sure he seeks counsel before the resolution is signed.
“If the Senate decides to pass this today, I will double-check with Leigh before I sign it, and if it’s not allowed or needs to be worded in a different way, I will just veto it and we can just start the process over again,” Smith said. “It won’t be enacted before we talk to Leigh about it.”
Parliamentarian Jack Swartzinski shifted the focus by addressing the seriousness of losing this important paperwork.
“I intend on voting ‘yes’ on this resolution, but I am particularly interested in seeing where exactly along the lines of communication this allocation got fumbled,” Swartzinksi said. “That it was something with Campus Life office that just didn’t execute? Obviously it’s a bit concerning that we are finding out about this now, but I think it’s definitely something we ought to keep an eye on for the rest of this year.”
Swartzinski said he wants the Business and Finance Committee to learn from this incident and figure out where communication failed.
“I will leave my recommendation to anyone currently sitting on the Business and Finance Committee to subject themselves to figuring out how this sort of mistake happened, because it was $1,500, it wasn’t chump change, especially for student organizations,” Swartzinski said.
After discussion and a Senate vote, Resolution 106-07 passed 14-2.