Since the start of the semester, Student Government has had a bit of a bumpy ride.
After a rash of reports about an alcohol incident involving former student body president Barclay Harless, misallocation of resources in SG’s SAFE Team wing and questionable firings came to light – as well as possibly lethargic handling of these issues – it seemed as if major overhaul would be required by current SG president Garin Flowers’ administration to clean up cronyism and corruption.
But SG showed it didn’t necessarily need major overhaul with its timely handling of former SG Budget chair Matthew Coppens, who was asked to resign because of his involvement in a sketchy transfer of funds.
As detailed in today’s Oracle, Coppens resigned several weeks ago after director of administrative services for SG David Armstrong realized Coppens approved a $1,100 transfer from materials and supplies funds to the SG travel fund for himself.
The transfer was made on behalf of a school spirit organization, the Beef Studs, of which Coppens is a member. The transfer was intended to cover travel costs the Beef Studs would incur when going to the Bulls’ football game in Auburn, Ala.
According to Armstrong, the transfer was unethical -warranting Coppens’ resignation – on several levels. First, SG rules prohibit approval of fund transfer by the recipient of the transfer. Also, as all SG funds are generated from the Activities and Service fees students pay at the beginning of every semester, allocation is generally approved if its use will benefit all students. Although the Beef Studs is an open organization – meaning anyone can join or be ‘painted’ – Armstrong believed that paying for Beef Stud travel expenses would not benefit all students and that it wouldn’t be fair to students not in the
Armstrong was right in this assessment, correctly pointing out that 21 members of Beef Studs would have had their way to Auburn paid while the other 3,500 students without friends in SG would have to pay themselves.
At the time the transfer request was approved, moreover, only three members of the budgetary committee meeting were present, meaning that quorum – the minimum number of members required to take a valid vote – was not held. No notes were taken at the meeting either, a move that’s a far cry from the transparency SG so desperately needs.
What the situation could have been – another item in a growing laundry list of missteps in SG – turned out positively for the organization and for the student body it represents. It proves it’s better to address a problem openly rather than hide or ignore it.