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ASMC Discovers that Funds Have Been Mismanaged

The current ASMC has learned a valuable financial lesson from
the discovery of mismanagement of funds made this summer and last
fall, according to some student members.

The initial discovery was made during the fall semester of 2003,
when the ASMC attempted to allocate funds for paying for a band
hosted by Mujeres Unidas club. According to Annie Flores, a senior
and vice-president of ASMC, the ASMC intended on paying a portion
of the cost for a band, yet records from the Controller’s Office
indicated that they actually paid the full amount. Further
investigation of the ASMC’s financial records were made this summer
by the Office of Student Life, revealing other discrepancies
between funding approved for certain activities and the amount
actually paid.

ASMC members suspect that Liza Kuney, the ASMC advisor at the
time was responsible. Traditionally, either the ASMC treasurer or
advisor must sign a funds request form in order for money to be
released to different organizations. Gloria Espinosa, the treasurer
at the time, said she never signed off on funds that were different
than the amount approved by the ASMC, implicating Kuney as the only
other individual that could have approved the funding.

Kuney left abruptly during the conclusion of the spring
semester, giving the ASMC very little time to get questions and
concerns addressed. Jamie Nickel, assistant controller, said that
Kuney was having “personal problems that may have affected her
ability to properly review [transactions].”

The financial discoveries distressed many ASMC members because
much of the money released was not what they had approved. Money
never went unaccounted for yet was occasionally over or
under-distributed to certain activities and clubs.

According to Flores, Kuney “didn’t follow the protocol for
allocating funds” and signed-off on forms changing the approved
amount allocated for certain things. “The ASMC felt disrespected
because that’s not what we intended,” she said.

Nicole Johnson, a senior and the current ASMC treasurer, said
that Kuney “acted more” than a typical ASMC advisor by approving
fund requests forms without consulting either the treasurer or the
ASMC and said that her actions “needed to be followed.”

Many ASMC members are viewing the incident as a valuable
learning lesson. Espinosa, a junior and the current ASMC
co-president, believes that it is enabling the ASMC to “help
tighten up the structure” of the financial system by exposing its
weaknesses. “We’re working towards making sure this doesn’t happen
in the future,” she said.

Flores agrees, believing that the real source of any
mismanagement was the financial system itself, which did not
sufficiently “check the work” of the advisor and treasurer’s
positions. She said that the system they are working on now is
“being operated on a checks and balances system similar to the U.S.
government” and is working toward “fairness and the inclusion of
the entire student body.”

Johnson added that they are “working towards making the system
more accountable.”

The new measures being implemented include increasing the number
of signatures required to release ASMC funds, and having the
legislative congress approve the ASMC’s budget before it is
signed-off on. Flores said the ASMC is also thinking about making
the approved budget public by reporting it to The Weekly or
publishing it in a monthly newsletter.

Revision of the financial system is garnering much support from
both faculty and staff. According to Espinosa, the staff of the
Controller’s Office is eager to enforce any new measures approved
by the ASMC. Alexis Bucknam, Student Life Coordinator for Student
Activities and the ASMC’s current advisor, is also helping the
revision process by providing insight based on her work with the UC
Berkeley student government.

“Alexis is bringing [the] knowledge of how things are done on
big campuses…with public funds,” said Flores. “I’m really excited
because now ASMC is operating on a protocol similar to the UC

Bucknam, who has only worked at Mills for two months, said she
would like to use the information the Office of Student Life
obtained during the summer to aid in her transition into the
advisor position. She said she is eager to help install new
“proactive measures towards cleaner financial records.”

Meanwhile, many ASMC members don’t believe that the incident
reflects negatively on Kuney. She was a member of the Mills
Community for nine years and Flores thought she was “very positive
and enthusiastic”.

Espinosa doesn’t believe Kuney intended on doing any harm, yet
is saddened that she did not consult either her or the ASMC before
altering the distribution of funds. Kuney was unable to be reached
for comment.