Volume 95, Issue 39
Friday, November 9, 2001
Social science budget scandal continues
Financial concerns were raised as early as August
By Erin Conway-Smith
Budget problems plagued Sarah Brock from the beginning of her term as Social Science Students' Council head soph.
Overdue bills from Orientation week activities were recently discovered by the SSSC, totalling $7,400. As head soph, Brock oversaw the SSSC's O-week planning.
A budget submitted by Brock to Stephanie Zonneville, University Students' Council O-week officer, sent up "red flags," said USC VP-finance Rob Irvine.
Irvine reviewed budgets submitted by faculty head sophs to Zonneville as part of a mid-term report last May.
"Things weren't adding [up] properly," Irvine said. "It didn't seem to me they were collecting enough from sophs to cover programming."
An O-week trip for social science students to Western Fair's IMAX theatre was not included in the budget, he said.
Irvine said he contacted SSSC president Duane Baxter with his concerns in order to protect the SSSC from fiscal liability.
The budget was returned to Brock in order to make changes, however, Zonneville said she never received a revised copy of the budget and left the necessary changes in Baxter's hands.
"Sarah said [the budget] had been fixed," Baxter said, adding Brock was given signing authority by the SSSC for up to $850 of SSSC funds.
Baxter said the SSSC kept in regular communication with Brock throughout the summer and checked up on the account to see how much money had been spent.
Imposing a limit of $850 for signing authority was a "pretty tight reign," Baxter said, adding last year's SSSC head soph, Jon Santos, had signing authority on the SSSC's entire account.
Brock set up and approved the IMAX trip, not the SSSC, Baxter said.
When asked how Brock could have signed for the IMAX trip despite her $850 limit, Baxter said he could not discuss the subject due to a confidentiality motion passed at Wednesday's SSSC meeting.
The $850 is only a starting amount for the SSSC's O-week budget, which funds the majority of its programming through frosh kit sales, Baxter said.
Brock booked the trip to Western Fair in early August and signed a contract for the trip to be billed to the SSSC, confirmed Voytek Michaelczyk, Western Fair IMAX sales manager.
The cost to rent the theatre for 700 people was $2,000, plus additional charges for food, the cost of which Michaelczyk was not able to confirm.
Michaelczyk said he did not question Brock's signing authority because she was taking 700 students to the IMAX, co-ordinating 14 buses for transportation and seemed to be in a position of authority.
Baxter said he could not comment on the effect the outstanding bills would have on this year's SSSC budget, nor would he comment on who would be responsible to pay the bills.
Friends of Brock say she has moved to British Columbia. All attempts by The Gazette to reach her have proved unsuccessful.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001