Jonathan Szydlo/BBC Managing Editor
On Oct. 31, the Student Government Council at the Biscayne Bay Campus’ Senate voted to freeze Panther Power’s funds due to the student council being delinquent on submitting their Event Audit Report to the SGC-BBC Operational Review Committee on Oct. 7, by 5 p.m.
SGC-BBC Operational Review Chair, Oluwatobi Adekoya, had informed all councils that fall under the purview of Campus Life at BBC on Oct. 3 that their Event Report Audits were due by the end of the week; if an organization were to not be in compliance with this request, SGC-BBC would take disciplinary action.
According to the University’s Student Government Association University Wide Statutes, section 3.09(d)(ii):
“On a first offense, an organization’s funds will be frozen. An account shall be frozen for a period not to exceed 10 school days. Two school days prior to such freezing, SGC President or the Comptroller must notify in writing to the Treasurer of the entity whose funds are being frozen and to the Senate, the reason of such action and the duration of the account freeze.”
In regards to the freezing of Panther Powers funds, the senate had passed the measure by a vote of eight in favor and two in opposition.
According to Adekoya, it is common practice for the executive branch to respond to measures, resolutions, or statutes within five days of their passage within the legislative branch.
Kevin Gonzalez, SGC-BBC comptroller, informed Panther Power of their fund freeze on Nov. 14, 14 days after the senate passed the measure.
In an interview with Student Media regarding the BBC-wide event audits, Gonzalez, Adekoya and SGC-BBC Finance Committee Chair, Oluwatamilore Odimayo, explained that the reason for the audits is for assurance that student organizations that are funded through student fees were transparent with their accounting and maintaining a degree fiscal responsibility, and would take necessary measures against delinquent organizations.
“Fiscal responsibility is a shared feeling between me and Adekoya,” said Gonzalez. “It’s about doing what’s right and preserving the integrity of the campus.”
However, while SGC-BBC was demanding that organizations that are funded by Activity and Service Fees were following the guidelines associated with proper A&S money spending, the comptroller had yet to hold an A&S fee spending orientation with any of the student council executive boards until Oct. 19, 60 days after the start of the fall semester.
Gonzalez admits that he was negligent with his responsibilities when it came to holding the A&S fee spending orientation and sending Panther Power’s fund freeze notification in a timely manner.
“I dropped the ball with the orientation,” admitted Gonzalez. “When I was [SGC-Modesto Maidique Campus] comptroller in the spring I didn’t have to hold an A&S orientation. And when I came to BBC, I was never made aware that I was supposed to hold it either…In my defense [regarding the Panther Power freeze] the two weeks that it took me to send out the notice was also during internship recruitment, which I was focused on.”
If Gonzalez, who is responsible for $911,096, would have informed Panther Power, who is funded $16,311, within the five days after the freeze measure was passed in the senate, Panther Power would not be able to hold its annual Winter Wonderland.
At time of press, Tamicha Roger, Panther Power president, had yet to respond via email to requests made by Student Media as to how much money is budgeted for Winter Wonderland.
In order for an organization to have their funds released by the Campus Life Accountant for a specific event, they must submit a File For Funds form specifying where the money will be spent, and for what purpose.
File For Funds must be submitted no later than three weeks in advance of an event, which in the case of Panther Power’s Winter Wonderland would have fallen during the freeze period, if it would have been enforced accordingly.
However, in spite of Gonzalez’s delayed notification, Panther Power was able to submit not only their File For Funds for Winter Wonderland but also the Event Audit Reports, for which they were getting the funds frozen, by Nov. 3.
As a result, the fund freeze, which officially began on Nov. 16, had no effect on Panther Power’s programming.