Tuesday, June 18

Councilmembers raise concerns over budget report accuracy


Members of the undergraduate student government have expressed concerns about the clarity of a budget report released in March, which detailed how each undergraduate student government office has spent its money this school year.

The report shows how
Undergraduate Students Association Council offices spent their money between Aug. 1 and March 8 this year based on information from Student Government Accounting records and interviews with councilmembers.

After the report’s release, some councilmembers said they doubted its accuracy because of the time difference between the conduction of the interviews and the collection of information from other accounting reports. The councilmembers said they think the information they gave is no longer accurate because their interviews were outdated.

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Several factors contributed to the months-long gap between some councilmember interviews and the report’s release, including scheduling conflicts and a change in the students responsible for gathering information for it.

Members of the USAC internal vice president’s office started interviewing for the report in the fall. But concerns about one office auditing others and potential slate biases skewing the report’s presentation caused the internal vice president’s office to ask USAC Budget Review Director Jacob Ashendorf to take over interviews with councilmembers.

Some of the councilmembers expressed concerns during the process about the internal vice president’s office conducting the report and having fourth-year mathematics/economics student Ken Myers running the interviews. Myers was the former chair of the Bruins United slate and is a member of the internal vice president’s office.

After some USAC councilmembers refused to participate in the report, Internal Vice President Avi Oved said he asked Ashendorf to finish the project.

The shift in project leadership caused inconsistencies between the different undergraduate student government office reports, some of which are more thorough than others.

External Vice President Maryssa Hall, a member of LET’S ACT!, said she thinks the budget report is mediocre. Ashendorf interviewed Hall through email after multiple scheduling conflicts, and only asked her one question, Hall said.

Myers and Ashendorf interviewed some other councilmembers in person and asked different questions to councilmembers.

Hall said she thinks the report could have been improved if every councilmember was interviewed at the same time, by the same person, and if they were all asked the same questions to maximize consistency.

Ashendorf said he resorted to asking Hall only one question through email after she cancelled on him twice. Ashendorf’s deadline date and Hall’s late response caused inconsistency between her office budget report and other office reports.

USAC President John Joanino said he thinks the report was straightforward and could be useful to students, but the interview process and the timeliness of the report were flawed.

“(The report) doesn’t give as accurate a picture as it could,”

Joanino said. “The intention is good, but it’s something that can definitely be improved.”

Creating a budget report was one of the initiatives Oved campaigned on during last year’s spring elections.

“This is the platform I ran on and even though I completed it, I wanted to go into more detail,” Oved said.

Six of the councilmembers currently on USAC ran with the Bruins United slate during the elections, four ran with the LET’S ACT! slate and three ran as independents. Oved is a member of the Bruins United slate.

Some councilmembers said they felt the report would be inherently biased because it is housed in one USAC office and because of Myers’ history as slate chair.

“It saddens me that (the councilmembers) looked at me as a product of Bruins United more than their internal vice president,” Oved said.

Oved said his office has not planned to release another budget report.

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Jasmine Aquino was an assistant Opinion editor in the 2016-2017 year. Previously, she was an Opinion and News contributor.


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  • Mister Robinson

    Did anyone notice the Daily Bruin closed the comments on the Omar Arce story?. I believe THE DAILY BRUIN endorsed him for the office he currently holds. Also, USAC President should know better than to assume someone is guilty. I don’t know Omar but I know everyone has a right to a fair trial.