By Ellen Schoder ’19 and Maurice Rippel ’19.
In light of recent conversations about student accountability, many club representatives have had to reevaluate their roles regarding club spending. Now, an improper taking of about $200 at Lunt Cafe– with suspicions of over $1000 more missing – has thrown Students’ Council (SC) and Honor Council to the forefront of this conversation.
During the public portion of the SC meeting on Sunday night, one of Lunt Cafe’s co-managers testified about an incident of potential theft at the student-run cafe – raising concerns that some of Lunt and SC’s policies are defunct. After about forty minutes, SC moved to a confidential process, which lasted over two more hours, making the entire meeting one of the longest in SC’s recent history, the Co-Presidents said.
“Students’ Council’s role at this point is to deal with the fiduciary piece of this,” said Ian Andolsek ‘17, one of the SC Co-Presidents. The plan, according to the Co-Presidents, is to organize a subcommittee in which members of the student body will review SC policies. Part of the subcommittee’s work will include looking specifically at Lunt Cafe’s policies.
Lunt has raised red flags for the Co-Treasurers over the past couple years because, unlike other student-run clubs, the cafe also functions as a business. But this specific case came to the Co-Treasurers attention around September 23, when they were alerted of a suspicious incident involving wages. This prompted the Treasurers to appoint student Financial Operations Managers to keep track of the cafe’s revenue. But in the four weeks since this position was implemented, more financial concerns – including the potential theft – have emerged.
“SC Treasurers can’t dictate […] how clubs manage their finances [in this way],” said one of Lunt’s co-managers. This same manager felt that SC intervention led to the potential theft because it changed who handled the money and how it was recorded. Not everyone on the management team shares these sentiments, though, as another co-manager said that oversight and stronger communication between the cafe and the SC Treasurers were necessary.
This incident has prompted other conversations about SC’s oversight of student groups and its role on campus in general.
“The efforts between Students Council and Student Activities are intentionally collaborative with my office’s role being one of an advisory capacity,” said Mike Elias, Director of Student Activities. “There are ways that both entities can put in place varying levels of accountability and from what I understand — because I have consistent communication with them — the Co-Presidents already have a plan to revise policies pertaining to the financial processes of Students’ Council.”
Although Students’ Council has already started conversations about this case, some students say that Honor Council may be better-equipped to handle this matter. But how Honor Council would deal with this is at their discretion.
“In general, I believe that an occurrence such as a theft could be best dealt with at the level of a confrontation or a mediation,” said Leah Budson ‘19, one of the Co-Chairs of Honor Council, via text. “Such a situation should only come to Council if the confrontation failed to reach a resolution to the satisfaction of both parties, and if the parties believe that further conversation would not be productive.”
The SC Presidents intend to send an email regarding the situation to update the community.