Editorial: Students cheated over 2001 A.S.P. referendum

    In 2001, A.S. councilmembers asked students to increase their own fees by nearly $60,000 each year to pay for the Academic Success program, which provides mentoring and book rental for low-income students. And students agreed.

    Now, four years later, A.S.P. has seen only a fraction of the money, and a large portion has been co-opted by the council to pay for other things, like college festivals. Last year, senators voted to give the program $42,000 — diverting the remaining $20,000 for other purposes. However, A.S.P. didn’t even spend that amount, with as much as $15,000 left over at the end of this year, according to A.S. Vice President Finance Greg Murphy.

    The students, who thought they were voluntarily helping a worthy cause, must receive an explanation. The A.S. financial controller should carry out an immediate and transparent audit, showing what almost a quarter of a million dollars since 2001 has been spent on. For its part, the A.S. Council must demand accountability by requiring A.S.P. to submit a line-item spending plan each spring, prior to the annual budget allocations.

    Students deserve no less: They should reject any new referenda that do not include a detailed spending plan, unless they are marketed as general fees increase.

    Clearly, something has gone wrong. The breakdown could be in leadership, with the A.S.P. executive director failing to expand the program as students asked. Or the problem could be with the referendum process itself, in which students vote on ill-conceived and ill-planned measures.

    Either way, students deserve an explanation before agreeing to vote on any new fee increase.

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