By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor
The Student Allocation Board has now been combined with the Executive Council of Students this semester, and some participants are having mixed feelings about how this occurred, especially since a new Event Coordinator administrative position has been created that will be paid for with student organization funding.
James Roach, Liberal Arts major and former head of the Student Allocations Board said he has resigned as SAB President, in protest of the creation of a new Events Coordinator position that will be paid for using funds set aside for student clubs and organizations.
The new position was approved for 5 years, and will cost between $235,000 and $305,900 total, after benefits are added, according to the official request for the position.
This could drain the entire surplus that has accumulated in the Student Allocations fund, which was created by the Governing Board in order to pay for trips, events and other expenses of student clubs and organizations, Roach said.
“This was a very big decision and we were given absolutely no time whatsoever to really discuss it and go over the full details of it,” Roach said.
Criminal Justice major and new ECOS President, Carrie Ratkevich said that in her judgment, approving the position was the best thing for the student body, and she believes that the way the vote to create this events coordinator position was conducted in a completely valid way.
“It was not pushed through, it was not overly fast. It was time sensitive and we needed to get this done and submitted before these timelines. We were not coaxed into making a decision, we were each told to make our own decision. We are adults, we are not children,” Ratkevich said.
On March 20, during spring break, Kristofer Gaussoin, Director of Student Conduct and Responsibilities as well as advisor to ECOS and the Allocation Board, sent everyone in both groups an email describing the proposal, telling them that they had 48 hours to make up their minds and vote yes or no on the proposal, according to email exchanges provided by ECOS.
ECOS’ three members voted yes and Roach voted no, and the position was approved for five years, but both Roach and Ratkevich were under the impression that the new position was going to be for three years, they said.
Gaussoin said that everyone involved was given enough time and information to make an informed decision, and that the reason the vote needed to be done so quickly was that the Office of the Dean of Students wanted to begin advertising the position over the summer and have someone hired by the fall.
“It was a ‘strike while the iron was hot’ moment. There was an opportunity to do something great, and it’s unfortunate that it was spring break, but everybody responded to their emails. It’s unfortunate that it had to be quick, but I don’t think the quality of the decision making was harmed by that,” Gaussoin said.
The primary duties of the new event coordinator position would be to “design and implement community engagement projects through which students at CNM can participate to improve their academic learning, job skill development, leadership and civic engagement,” with a primary focus on student clubs and organizations, according to the request.
The request was made by the Office of the Dean of Students, and the employee hired to fill the position will report directly to them, according to the official request for the position.
The Allocation Board was created to oversee and distribute student funds, which come from fees that every CNM student pays as part of tuition. Roach has been the only member of the Board for some time, despite efforts to recruit new members, he said.
Normally, Roach would have been the only person with the power to approve or reject the proposal, but because the Allocation Board was so short-staffed, he had agreed to fuse the Board with student government, the ECOS, he said.
“I was against it, mainly because I don’t feel that student funds should be used to hire faculty or administration,” Roach said.
Roach said he suggested postponing the vote until April 4, when ECOS and the Allocation Board would be officially combined, giving him time to bring the ECOS members up to speed on the details of how the Allocation Board operated.
Roach said he feels that the groups should have had much more time, so they could meet in person and discuss the details of the proposal without the pressure to make a quick decision.
He said that he was never told why this particular vote had to be done so fast, or why it could not wait until after spring break, when the groups could have an official quorum.
“I was told we only have 48 hours to make a decision, which seems really fishy to me because in the past there have been provisions that took months upon months to get done,” Roach said.
According to the official proposal, the Event Coordinator will report directly to the Dean of Students, even though the salary is paid out of the Allocation fund.
This greatly limits the amount of oversight the student government would have over that student money, Roach said.
The Allocation Board will now be run by ECOS, as a separate process of their regular meetings, and to avoid a conflict of interest, ECOS will not be in charge of allocating their own funds, Ratkevich said.
He also pointed out that this was the first time the ECOS members had ever been involved in the Allocation Board process, and that the amount of money being considered was enormous compared to most proposals.
Roach resigned shortly after the vote, because he felt that the way in which the decision was reached was unethical, he said.
Another concern is that part of the job of the Allocation Board is to make sure that the money they give out is being spent in the appropriate manner, Roach said.
Now that ECOS has full control over the Allocation process, there could be concerns about possible conflicts of interest when deciding how much funding other student organizations will receive, but Gaussoin said there are measures in place to keep the group accountable.
If any member has a possible conflict of interest when dealing with a certain group or proposal, they are expected to let the other members know, and to remove themselves from the vote in question, he said.
Gaussoin said he will also be working with ECOS over the summer to revise the rules and guidelines of the Allocation process, to better address the specifics of how ECOS does business.
Gaussoin said he is confident that the new Event Coordinator will help to increase student involvement outside the classroom, which has been shown to improve GPAs and graduation rates.
Gaussoin said that after the five years is up, the administration will see how valuable the position is, and will decide to continue paying for it with general funds, he said.
“I would hope at that point it would never go away again, because I think it will only do great things for CNM,” Gaussoin said.
By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor