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“For the administration to completely and unilaterally override the student voice without any student input is completely preposterous,” he said.
According to Finance Board rules, a Finance Board decision cannot be overturned unless proper procedures were not followed, “the funding allocation decision was arbitrary or capricious,” or the imposed sanctions were unnecessarily harsh compared to the severity of the infraction. The manual says, “The fact that the Board did not fund a request in its entirety does not in itself constitute grounds for an appeal.”
Golia, who received a more-than-$3,000 stipend last year, said Wankel’s decision is not supported by these reasons.
“I think if you set the trend that a decision can be overturned just because you don’t like the final decision, I think that’s dangerous,” Golia said. “There’s no reason Finance Board should even exist because if Student Affairs is going to disagree with Finance Board in the first place, then just let Student Affairs give out the money.”
In her decision letter, Wankel said, “The action by the Finance Board was made as a result of only 2 of the 12 eligible students voting,” and because the election process for this year was already underway at the time of the allocation decision, it seemed “like a ‘bait and switch’” for those running for office.
Additionally, she said the Senate had already approved the budget, and because Finance Board is a subgroup of SGA, it is unusual for a subcommittee to have such control over the governing body. Wankel noted that “adequate review including benchmarking and full discussion by the Senate on the matter was not conducted.”
Golia countered Wankel’s rationale, saying there were not 12 members on the Finance Board at the time, and quorum was met before the decision. He said only two student members voted because others on the Board had ties to SGA, so they abstained. The two who voted against funding for stipends were students-at-large, Golia said, and all student members also conducted a straw poll.
“Everyone voted in that and no students supported the stipends,” he said.
Sabo, who received a $4,200 SAF-funded stipend last year, said he lodged the appeal because he did not believe the Finance Board decision necessarily represented the student body’s opinion.
“The reason I appealed in the beginning was to have a full vetting of this process,” Sabo said. “I didn’t think it really did a service to the student body and the university and all parties involved to just do away with stipends without any examination or any analysis of the issue and how this affects everybody involved.”
A full vetting process will happen when SGA reviews how and if stipends should exist, as well as how the association requests a budget, Sabo said.
“As long as students are determining the outcome going forward, because it’s our money we’re paying into the Student Activity Fee, I have no problem with it,” he said.
Petrin said SGA has not officially begun the review process but will seek the views of students-at-large.
Current Comptroller Maya Quijada, who was a member of Finance Board during the original allocation but abstained from the vote, said she does not believe the majority of students are in favor of stipends.
Funding for stipends “shouldn’t be coming out of the Student Activity Fee,” she said. “So going forward I expect and I hope that it will not.”
Petrin echoed that sentiment, saying he has no problem with stipends if they come from SGA’s personally fundraised cash account, which has supplemented payments in the past.
“I have no opposition to the continuation of those cash account supplements,” he said. “But as for the Student Activity Fee stipends, I think this review, I would be surprised if it didn’t reveal the same [thing] that we’ve been hearing for a long time now, which is that it’s not something that students necessarily support.”