SFC should be careful about its procedures

NW Staff

Whenever a student organization enters into a contract with speakers to bring them to campus, the contract is not with the student organization or an NMU department, but with the university as a whole. These contracts are binding agreements that the speaker will come to campus and be paid the agreed amount.

Such a contract was involved in bringing Mary Doria Russell to campus on Oct. 26. As a part of the money used to bring Russell to campus, Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, approached the Student Finance Committee (SFC) with a request of $2,000 on Sept. 16. The SFC exists for that purpose, to provide student organizations with money for events from the Student Activity Fee, which students pay into each semester. The money was approved and everything was fine until a later meeting on Oct. 14, when the SFC determined that Sigma Tau Delta wasn’t abiding by the specifications that were agreed to when the group was given the money. As a result of this, the SFC decided to pull the funding without notifying Sigma Tau Delta beforehand.

It’s good that SFC has this ability to freeze money; it ensures that students’ money is used appropriately. It makes sense that this is how they would enforce the conditions that were agreed on. Whether or not it was appropriate in this case is debatable, but we think that greater problem lies in the fact that Sigma Tau Delta was not informed beforehand.

Melissa Pinskey/NW

The contract that Russell signed stated, “This form is not to be used to contract with NMU employees or students,” which essentially means that if Sigma Tau Delta was unable to afford to pay Russell, the university overall would have been liable, not Sigma Tau Delta nor the English department.

The SFC, as an organization, claims its job is to “look out for the students.” Putting the university in a situation that would bring legal action against it seems reckless. Though options to notify the group before the money was frozen were brought up at the Oct. 14 meeting, no such action was taken. This clearly creates a problem for both the university and student organizations and we feel that SFC should change its procedures to allow the SFC to notify the groups prior to pulling the funding. This would give them a chance to rectify the problem. That way, everyone wins.