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October 26, 2000 Student clubs feel aftermath of CSU scandal



Petition to recall CSU's Rob Green

Concordia students are circulating two separate petitions demanding that Concordia Student Union president Rob Green be recalled to election after Green admitted that nearly $200,000 of student money has been embezzled during his presidency.

The CSU’s bylaws stipulate that when a petition with 2,086 student signatures demanding the president’s recall is submitted to the chief returning officer, a by-election is automatically called. If Green’s presidency is recalled, he could run in the by-election.

Petitions demanding Green’s resignation are not binding according to the CSU’s bylaws. If the president was presented with a petition demanding his resignation and refused, students would have no legal recourse.

Anthony Maragna, a Political Science student and executive at the Political Science Student Association (PSSA), drafted a petition two weeks ago and with the help of several other students, has been actively soliciting signatures since then.

Another student, Andrew Bandes, the sales manager at CJLO, has been circulating a petition of his own for a couple of weeks. A spokesperson for PSSA hopes the two petitions will eventually be merged, but was unsure if such a move would be recognized by the CSU’s chief returning officer.

- by Jane Shulman

by Alexandra Schaffhauser

With their money out of reach in frozen funds, many student clubs and associations are feeling the aftermath of the CSU fraud.

The embezzlement of $196,000 has left most of the CSU’s 70 clubs and associations with the prospect of cancelling or postponing many of their events scheduled for the term.

Until the CSU redesigns a new budget, the student union will not be issuing cheques. Specific funding that clubs may need must be overseen by CSU Clubs Commissioner Chris Schultz, who is regulating an emergency fund for clubs.

Cheques signed after the beginning of October are now invalid due to the change in signing authority, which has shifted from the VP Finance and the president to the CSU’s general manager Frederick Stom and the council chair Patrice Blais.

The embezzlement has affected clubs in various ways. Those that put on larger-scale events on campus are feeling more pain, but even clubs that put on smaller events are finding themselves in a financial bind.

“It’s hit us in little ways. There’s no funding to even make a new banner. In that respect, it’s been hard, just because of little things like photocopies and colour printing,” said Yesim Ilkin, the president of Amnesty International.

At the moment, money for any of her club’s activities or materials are coming out of Ilkin’s pocket, not from the emergency fund. “The money I’m going to ask for is too little, but it’s enough for me that it makes a substantial difference in my quality of living,” she said.

Ilkin has kept the receipts from the club’s expenditures and will see what the CSU can give back to her later. Despite all the drawbacks, though, she is not upset with the CSU’s failure to prevent the embezzlement.

“These things are very hard to run. Rob Green made a mistake. These things happen. It’s going to be a catalyst for change,” she said.

Faculty associations have also been hit hard by the fraud. The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) especially has been feeling the effect. Unlike the Commerce and Administration Student Association (CASA) and the Engineering and Computer Science Association (ECA), ASFA is not an accredited Faculty association, meaning that it does not levy student fees through its own Faculty.

“Our funding is almost 100-per-cent dependent on what the CSU will give us. We are presently in a very tight financial situation,” said Riccardo Filippone, VP Finance of ASFA.

ASFA’s objectives for the school year include creating its own interactive Web site, producing a bimonthly newsletter for Arts and Science students, providing services to its many departments, and organizing social events and large departmental orientations.

ASFA’s finances will be restricted because its departmental associations’ budgets will be severely cut. “Our budget did not get cut — it’s a very small budget. All the projects that were going to be used to unify the Arts and Science programs — all those funds will have to be diverted to making up for the fact that the departments now will have less money,” Filippone said.

Filippone is also VP Internal of the Model United Nations, who are experiencing similar financial problems. The Model UN organizes several trips to out-of-province conferences yearly, so funding is a major concern. Last week, club members went to Washington for a conference.

The Model UN has an annual budget of $40,000. This year, it has a budget of $7,000 and has only obtained half of it, $3,500.

“We are the most underfunded association,” Filippone said. “Now our budget will have to be cut for the second semester, which will mean that students will have to pay more for each conference and will be able to attend fewer conferences — which, essentially, is the whole purpose of the club existing,”

The Model UN had to cancel an event at Reggie’s a few weeks ago due to the club’s lack of funding. Other clubs have had to follow the same route. The Liberal Arts Society, which annually organizes a theme weekend up north for its students in the fall, will have to postpone the event until CSU funding is restored.

“At this point in time, no money is going out because we’re trying to reconstruct the budget, to make sure we know everything that’s coming in, and then we have to go to the bank. It’s a very lengthy process,” said CSU Clubs Commissioner Chris Schultz.

Schultz is asking clubs that need immediate funding to drop off proposals to him explaining what they need funding for, and he will get them signed. The CSU clubs budget fund last year was $140,000, which it is hoping to preserve this year. The year before it was $80,000.