Trust isn’t easy to earn back. But McMaster’s part-time students association is off to a good start.
After months of silence on misspending allegations, they’ve come clean and are starting over. 2011 financial statements are released. Executive director Sam Minniti is out. The whole board of directors is out.
A new board was elected at the Feb. 5 general meeting. The eight new members, who were elected without contest, showed a genuine interest in transparency.
But what’s next?
When reports came out of the money executive director Sam Minniti made in 2011, the office renovation expenses and the trip to Italy for a former president, MAPS seemed to have all kinds of cash.
But they don’t. Out of the $300,000 in payments to the Wilson’s building construction they committed between 2010 and 2012, MAPS paid $60,000. When the University began its investigation of the Association last year, it withheld part-time student membership funds.
Financial statements showed that, in 2011, a two thirds of their student fees revenue went to salaries and benefits.
And now, McMaster Students Union president-elect David Campbell is ready to tear up the agreement on summer fees between the two organizations, which will take a major chunk out of MAPS’ membership due revenue.
For it’s part, McMaster University was bold in holding on to MAPS fees. Stepping between a students union and its membership is a risky move for a university. But, in this case, it was the right one.
And it was also right for McMaster’s provost to call for a little more oversight and better financial reporting to the University.
It’s a tough problem for the next MAPS board to inherit. It could mean dropping their Wilson building pledge, re-thinking the way they support part-time students or (obviously) paying their employees significantly less.
And as cathartic as the annual general meeting was for some people in attendance, there’s lots still to answer for.
Will part-time students be recouping any of the money spent on, or potentially committed to, Sam Minniti? Will past part-time students and other stakeholders be getting justice?
If so, it’s going to have to come from this new MAPS board of directors.
The attendance at the general meeting was lousy. After all the press coverage of MAPS over the last two months, only 15 to 20 members showed up.
Part-time students are busy. A lot of them have jobs and families. They don’t have time to get involved in campus politics, but they still deserve representation.
That’s why a relatively large, conscientious and involved board of directors is so important. And at some point, they’ll need to make the tough decisions to move forward and regain the trust of the University and, most importantly, part-time students.