Photo illustration by Michael Uribes
In 2008, the Associated Student, Inc., Fresno State’s student government organization, was marked by high spending, a lawsuit and scandals. But 2010 brought about a different group of student officers and tighter spending.
Fresno State has been involved in several lawsuits and other money handling problems in recent years. The Auxiliary Organizations audit Report in 2008 revealed several of the universities money mismanagement problems in several Fresno State departments.
Some organizations within the university were shown to have no abnormalities but after months of investigation, the Audit revealed that ASI, “did not reveal any major findings or significant internal problems or weaknesses.”
But months later, ASI was sued and was involved in a scandal that ended in the resignation of ASI President Mackee M. Mason and Executive Vice President Sandra Flores after admitting to underage drinking.
That same year, ASI spent $50,449 in traveling expenses which included a trip to Disneyland for one of their retreats.
According to ASI Vice President of Finance Cesar Sanchez the group has not traveled anywhere this year. Sanchez also talked about additional money being invested in adding more computers to the University Student Union.
Sarait Martinez, a senate member in 2008, said it’s very important for all students at Fresno State to be involved in the workings of ASI.
“It’s our [students’] money,” Martinez said.
All students are charged student body fee of $34.50 every semester. According to the 2008-2009 Annual Report, ASI received $590,071 and $623,904 of yearly income for the 2008 and 2009 fiscal year from student fees.
These fees are used to support ASI, whose members decide how the money will be distributed among ASI sustainability and student programs.
Cesar Sanchez, vice president of finance, said that ASI does not get the full $34.50 per student. According to Sanchez, he was told that ASI only receives $14 per student. He is unaware of what happens to the remaining money.
When the amount of students increases, ASI receives more money. This year, ASI received $648,779.
The 2008 abnormalities did not stop after the year ended. Some costs decreased in 2009 such as the telephone fee, which was $6,825 in 2008 down to $2,908 in 2009. Traveling decreased from more than $50,000 in 2008 to $15,000 in 2009.
Not all fees decreased, however, as legal fees in 2008 were $1,544 and became $24,551 in 2009 due to lawsuit troubles.
The cost of supplies in 2008 was $15,191. In 2009 it went to $48,892.
In the 2008 fiscal year, of the $590,071, only $94,633 was spent on student programs, such as clubs.
Melissa Mata, a senior and former ASI senator also believes that students should be more involved in the student government.
“They represent you on the state level,” Mata said. “How they behave, what they do, it’s representing you and ultimately your money.”
In October of this year, California State University, Long Beach student newspaper The Daily 49er published an article revealing the high wages its student government members received. The president, vice president and treasurer each received $22,762 in annual income.
The highest wage for student government, according to the article, is the student government president from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who earns an annual income of $29,121.
According to Sanchez, the president of ASI is supposed to make $400 every two weeks. Sanchez says he and Executive Vice President Selena Farnesi make $750 per month.
In addition, all ASI executives have the option of purchasing a yellow parking permit which allows them to park closer to campus in the employee parking lot. They also receive a $50 cell phone stipend and get early class registration and sometimes free tickets to Save Mart Center events.
According to the bylaws the main purpose of the organization is to “meet the needs of the students and campus communities on the University; and stimulate the educational, social, and physical well-being of the University community.”
Sanchez affirmed that ASI has been registering students to vote and have encouraged students to call state officials to voice themselves about pressing issues, like the fee increases.
“If the power ASI has is utilized in a very positive and good way, it can lead to big changes. But [ASI] cannot do it alone. We need the student body to be involved in the process,” Martinez said.