May 27, 2019
(Seth Casey/Collegian)

CSU audit finds compliance problems with student organizations at Fresno State

An audit published by the CSU Office of the Chancellor last spring identified several compliance issues with Fresno State’s student involvement and student organization departments.

In the audit, Fresno State management concurred with the report’s findings and stated it would rectify the noted issues.

Student organizations are allowed a maximum of 20 percent nonstudent members. However, according to the audit, no process was in place to ensure this requirement was met. According to Fresno State, clubs and organizations will be required to document and submit their membership rosters to student involvement as part of their annual recognition process to ensure compliance.

Gerry Panelo Elizondo, assistant director for student involvement, said the compliance issue was not a matter of having too many nonstudent members in organizations, but was a matter of insufficient detail within the membership rosters. She said the process has now been rectified to accurately denote which members are or are not students.

“We didn’t delineate which members were nonstudents. Now we’re better able to gauge if we hit that requirement number,” Elizondo said.

The audit stated that advisers of student organizations were required to complete an orientation process which included watching several videos and submitting an adviser agreement form.

Advisers who had previously completed the orientation videos were granted exemption from watching the videos a second time, but no process had been implemented to verify they had actually completed the orientation. Advisers will also be required to update their orientation training every year, rather than the previous every-other-year process.

Fresno State administrators responded in the audit report, stating that a system that would record and track advisors’ completion of these orientation processes would be implemented. According to Elizondo, a system is now in place which will track advisers’ orientation completion.

Another subject addressed in the audit was the mandate that student organizations may not hold off-campus bank accounts unless an exemption has been authorized by the campus’ CFO.

The audit found that while organizations had disclosed their use of an off-campus bank account, Fresno State had not established a process to verify authorization of exemption for said accounts. Fresno State has since implemented a policy that requires student organizations to acquire advance written approval by the CFO for any such exemption.

The audit also stated that although advisers and student officers were required to view orientation videos, these videos did not adequately address alcohol consumption and abuse. University administration stated in the audit that it would conduct orientations that fulfilled the CSU Alcohol Policies and Prevention Program requirements.

Student organizations are also required to submit liability waivers for on-campus activities. The audit noted that in reviewing 16 on-campus student organization events, in three out of five events which required liability waivers, the university did not ensure the student organization had submitted the required waivers.

The university acknowledged in the audit the failure to ensure proper waivers were attained, and stated that it would remind student organizations and advisers of the requirement to procure the necessary waivers, and would implement a system to collect these documents.

“What we have now instated is that we ensure those forms are returned to us the next day,” Elizondo said.

Fresno State vice president for administration and CFO Debbie Adishian-Astone stated that the university has since “responded and provided documentation to the CSU Office of Audit and Advisory Services” in response to its recommendations.

The last CSU audit to address student organizations occurred in 2004. Considering the length of time between audits, Elizondo said the compliance issues identified were minimal, and the university was able to meet compliance by the audit’s suggested dates.

“A lot of it was just tightening our systems,” Elizondo said. “Based on the timeline that was outlined, we met them all and we are in full compliance.”

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