Audits spur fees cuts

Discrepancies are cutting deeply into some groups’ fees allocations.

by Anne Millerbernd

Some University of Minnesota student groups’ financial pasts might follow them through the student services fees process this year.

Over winter break, some groups were subjected to an external review of their finances by Deloitte and Touche LLP. Though many reviews came back relatively clean, those who showed large inconsistencies in their financial records could take bigger hits from the Student Services Fees Committee when it appropriates funding this month.

The review process was similar to an audit but excluded a few procedures typically included in audits.

Student groups committee chair Benjamin Beutel said when allocating money to groups, the fees committee takes into account how the groups are managing their money.

“Even in round one, [the reviews] were definitely brought up more than a couple of times,” he said.

 If a group had a large amount of money
missing when its finances were reviewed and the group didn’t show the committee that it was correcting its mistakes, Beutel said, that would be factored into the recommendations.

The Black Student Union’s financial situation appeared to be one of the rockiest, with a more than $1,600 difference in its reported bank statement and the one Deloitte calculated. Treasurer Jenessa White said she’s nervous about how it will impact her group’s fees request.

“I just told our group straight-up in the meeting, I’m not going to ask for as much money as we normally ask for,” she said, “because it’s going to look like we can’t handle that much money.”

White said BSU lost some of its records in a move to a new office on the second floor of Coffman Union.

Beutel said the committee didn’t put much emphasis on the review results when deciding the initial funding recommendations, but it likely will for final recommendations.

But Adam Motzko, treasurer for Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, said he doesn’t think the fees committee fully considers the evaluations.

“Even when there’s been an incredibly terrible audit [of] a group, they still usually get most of their funding,” he said. “It seems like it’s just another piece of paper the committee looks at but don’t really care about.”

During leadership transition, Motzko said, student groups can lose track of financial records, which can then impact how they fare in the reviews. However, CFACT’s review went smoothly overall because the group was able to keep track of its funding.

The group’s review noted a nearly $6,500 discrepancy in its records because some of its financials are managed by the group’s national office, so fault doesn’t entirely lie with the University chapter.

Student group U-Finance  served as a middleman between the groups and Deloitte. Group president Steven Kislenko said the reviews were mostly meant to keep the groups accountable for their finances.

“The biggest [thing] that the whole audit process does is it helps affirm how strong the financial management system is within the group,” he said.

MinnesoTap, a student group focused on tap dancing, was one of six groups whose financials completely lined up in the reviews.

Group Vice President Paige Silva said they’ve always been diligent in record-keeping, which she said results in stable fees appropriations.

“I think consistently we have shown how well we’ve done with keeping a record of all our finances,” she said. “I think that was definitely a big factor as far as what money we get.”