Volume 95, Issue 41
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Embattled head soph speaks
"I have nothing to hide," Sarah Brock maintains
By Aaron Wherry
Speaking publicly for the first time since controversy surrounding the Social Science Students' Council erupted, head soph Sarah Brock said she was "shocked" at what has become a very "personal" conflict.
This past Wednesday, the SSSC spent a confidential meeting discussing $7,400 in unpaid bills related to what they labelled "unauthorized" Orientation week events.
Brock, speaking by telephone from British Columbia, maintained all activities organized by herself and her soph team were authorized and, until early October, considered financially sound.
According to Brock, plans for a trip for 700 first-year students to the Western Fair IMAX theatre were organized and finalized in late July and early August. At the time, it was Brock's understanding, she said, that revenues generated by frosh and soph kits would cover all expenses.
"If I didn't think I had that money, I wouldn't have spent it," she said. "I thought my revenue from kit sales was [going to be] a lot more. I was not aware of this deficit those numbers did not come until [October]."
All plans were authorized by University Students' Council Orientation officer Stephanie Zonneville, Brock said.
"All my programming goes through Orientation staff. Everything had to be approved up to the last detail. The prospect that it was unauthorized is silly," she said. "Steph [Zonneville] was my boss. Nothing gets done without her approval. Nothing had to go through [the SSSC]."
All O-week programming activities submitted by Brock was approved, Zonneville said, but Brock's proposed budget was not approved by Zonneville on recommendation from Rob Irvine, USC VP-finance.
"Rob and I gave [the budget] back to the SSSC and never recieved a second draft," she said.
Zonneville said her main focus as O-week officer is programming and left it to the SSSC to make budget changes.
Head sophs are not necessarily expected to solely handle the Orientation budget, Zonneville said, adding the faculty council president and VP-finance are usually involved.
In October, when final budget numbers from the USC were delivered to the SSSC and bills from Western Fair arrived, the deficit became clear.
According to Brock, she spoke with Baxter on numerous occasions with the intention of setting up a meeting to discuss the deficit. Brock said she was open to discussion and hoped to find a resolution.
A meeting never materialized and, Brock said, she notified Baxter that she would be leaving for B.C. and a discussion had to take place before that.
During the first week of November, as Brock was preparing to leave for B.C., she said Baxter told her they would speak by phone as soon as possible, but then, on Nov. 4 she received an e-mail from Baxter asking for her resignation.
Brock said the sudden change in tone surprised her.
On Nov. 7, the SSSC held a confidential meeting and, soon after, the deficit and the SSSC's travails became public.
Brock said she has been kept abreast of the situation and is "shocked at what's happened."
There has been no contact between Brock and Baxter since last Wednesday, Brock said.
Brock said she is eager to speak with council.
"I have nothing to hide. This is just getting out of hand," she said. "Too much [is being done] on a personal level, which it doesn't need to be. I'm not sure what to do. This came by surprise. I don't know what is the next step."
Baxter said he informed Brock on Nov. 5 that if she wanted to plead her case, she could send a statement to be read at last Wednesday's SSSC meeting, but no statement was received.
"I hope to be able to work with [Brock] and get her involved in the process of fixing this," Baxter said.
Most concerning, Brock said, is the potential this controversy has to create a rift between social science sophs and the SSSC.
"I don't want [my soph team] to be like 'damn council,'" she said. "I hope they're respectful of council."
For now, Brock said she hopes the real problem the financial problem can be dealt with.
with files from Erin Conway-Smith
Copyright © The Gazette 2001