Prism offers testimony calling for Finance Board reform before election upset

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Mon Apr 15, 2019

This article is the third and final in a series of articles examining Finance Board, its allocations of the Student Activities Fund, and its oversight. Coverage of Finance Board and the Student Government Association (SGA) will continue through regular coverage and new investigations.

 

Leaders from Prism offered public testimony detailing their experiences dealing with Finance Board at the SGA Senate session on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. They reported that Finance Board had mishandled their budget requests, that Prism had received incorrect information from members of Finance Board, and that a member of Finance Board said that clubs like Prism aren’t what Illinois Tech is “about.”

This all comes immediately before the end of SGA executive board elections. The election for Finance Board Chair was won by Joshua Bowden, a third year computer science student with no prior history serving on Finance Board. This is effectively unprecedented, as no one interviewed for this story could think of a time that a Finance Board Chair was elected having not first served as a Finance Board Advisor.

Emma Kaufman and Claire Joswiak, the president and vice president (respectively) of Prism, offered testimony at the meeting. Among the claims they made, Kaufman and Joswiak said that in the November 2018 Finance Board hearing, Jorge Morin slammed his fists on the table and Nina Tamras slammed her laptop shut. This behavior was confirmed by Patrick Fina, who was present at both the Finance Board hearing and the senate hearing. Joswiak later used the term “unprofessional” to describe this behavior.

Joswiak clarified in an interview that Prism’s “biggest goal” in bringing this testimony forward was “perspective” and stressed that she didn’t want this to be seen as a personal attack toward anyone.

Morin, shortly after Prism presented their testimony, turned to the Finance Board advisors sitting behind him. He asked, “Am I aggressive?” They did not respond.

The history of Prism and Finance Board has been, to quote Kaufman, “rocky.” Having gone to SGA's Judicial Board three times in the past two and a half years, there have been many opportunities for Prism and members of Finance Board to settle disagreements before Prism decided to come forward with their testimony.

Fina stressed in an interview that he and the Office of Campus Life were acting to “support, clarify, and, in a way, interpret." Fina also noted that those present at the meeting “dug deep” in order to directly address the issues brought forth by Prism.

Chloe Rubinowicz, a first-year Finance Board advisor, confirmed that Finance Board didn’t know that Prism would speak out at the senate hearing. Though caught off-guard, Rubinowicz said that Prism “had every right to be concerned” and that Finance Board “should make an effort to change.”

Rubinowicz has significantly changed her opinions several times throughout the semester. Initially Rubinowicz strongly opposed Bowden as a candidate for Finance Board Chair and the possibility of Finance Board meetings being recorded for the public record, though she now says Bowden has a “sense about him” after speaking to him.

She also, in an interview, said that she supports Finance Board hearings being recorded and in the SGA meeting on Wednesday offered a friendly amendment to a Bylaws amendment requiring just that.

Morin has also changed views throughout the semester. He has alternated several times on supporting Finance Board hearings being recorded. He also made the Finance Board ledger public near the end of the fall semester before pulling it this semester, citing a student org “requesting” it. Rubinowicz said she was fairly sure that student org was Union Board.

Ayesha Anees, the President of Union Board, said that she has "no knowledge" of Union Board asking Morin to remove the ledger from the Finance Board website. Anees stressed that Union Board has not made any official action on the subject and that she personally was glad the ledger was public, saying "students should know where their money is going."

Morin was also forcibly removed from the Executive Elections Committee of SGA on April 2 amid accusations of being not entirely impartial, reinforcing a reputation of being difficult to work with that was echoed in Prism's statement. 

This semester has seen significant public criticism of Finance Board. Throughout the processes of investigation and SGA legislation, Finance Board has shared perspective and information with TechNews, though they have made moves to become less transparent throughout the same time period. With the two powerhouses of Finance Board, Morin and Tamras, graduating, the future of Finance Board is in in question. Rubinowicz says she "hopes this goes well."

With this in mind, it is important to remember something that Narkis Garcia said about the Finance Board Chair in an interview at the beginning of this investigation: 

"You have more power than any of us. Real s---." 

 

 

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2019 - Spring - Issue 11
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