With word at last week’s University of Maine Student Government meeting that Auxiliary Services has increased oversight of Residents on Campus’ budget, there was widespread indignation among senators.
Senators last Tuesday cried out against Dan Sturrup, interim director of Auxiliary Services, for imposing guidelines on ROC, a board of Student Government that represents resident students, which was previously allowed to allocate money at its own discretion.
“ROC can’t spend their own money,” said senator and former ROC member Chris Knoblock.
Tucker Adams, ROC vice president of programming, said last week believes the new guidelines are in place because of the mistakes of past ROC administrations — a reason he feels Auxiliary Services has stepped up its oversight.
“It’s money for on-campus students by on-campus students,” Sturrup added.
Previous ROC administrations had been using their blank check to fund organizations that did not exclusively benefit those on-campus students recognized under the guidelines.
“When they could fly solo like that, they were spending money on stuff they should not have been spending money on,” said Patrick Hart, ROC vice president.
New University of Maine System regulations require a more stringent auditing procedure.
“The University of Maine has become tighter,” Sturrup said, which contributed to the new financial policy.
“They looked at every single aspect of money and where it was going and how it was being audited,” Adams said. “At the time, ROC took a check from Auxiliary Services and was given free rein over everything. Nobody was checking the books except for the vice president for financial affairs.”
“[This] summer we moved over to a department at the university. All orders go through [Residential] Life. We can still spend it on what we want, but it’s basically an insurance policy. Dan put it into place for that specific reason,” he said.
Sturrup said ROC approached him for guidance in the new system and he said both the request, and the desire to prevent double-spending, led to greater oversight.
“It’s not like they need ROC to spend this money. It’s their money in the first place,” said ROC President Dylan Wingfield. “[Sturrup] would rather provide the opportunity for a student-run organization to take care of these issues on campus to benefit residential students.”
Sturrup used the example of increased oversight of the Maine Turnpike Authority after a scandal last spring involving its executive director, which prompted the state Legislature to pass a law mandating new practices within the agency, to describe the university’s formerly unmet need for financial scrutiny in student groups.
Paul Violette, former executive director of the MTA, ran the organization that spent approximately $157,000 of taxpayer money from 2005 to 2006 on gift cards from hotels and restaurants.
Violette said those gift certificates were intended to be used for fundraising for regional charities; however, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability could only verify $15,000 in gift certificates making it into the hands of charities.
It is not clear who received the rest of the gift certificates, but some, according to OPEGA, were redeemed at hotels in France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Canada and Bermuda.
Violette resigned in March from the MTA, which oversees the 106-mile turnpike that runs from York to Gardiner.