The McMaster Association of Part-time Students cleaned house last Friday. Its board of directors announced that MAPS had “ended its relationship” with its beleaguered executive director Sam Minniti and that none of the current board would stand for re-election at the Association’s Feb. 5 annual general meeting.
On Monday, MAPS released its 2011 financial statements, the contents of which had been kept under wraps for months.
The news comes after an investigation of MAPS by McMaster University “in light of significant concerns that were raised regarding MAPS’ business practices,” according to a December statement from the University. The investigation began last spring, after McMaster’s board of governors denied MAPS’ request that its per-student fee be increased from $7 per unit to $10 per unit.
Now, the University is looking for more oversight of the Association. In a statement released last Friday by McMaster’s Provost, David Wilkinson, the University outlined a number of conditions for the continued operation of MAPS, most of which were centred on more transparency and better financial reporting.
Meanwhile, multiple candidates in this year’s McMaster Students Union presidential election have argued that summer students who were full-time students in the fall and winter shouldn’t be paying MAPS fees, given that their MSU membership lasts into the summer. MAPS fees are charged to students who take fewer than 18 units in a two-term academic session.
David Campbell, who is on leave from his post as the MSU’s Vice President (Administration) to run for the presidency, has even included the sentiment in a platform point.
MAPS’ 2011 financial statements showed that the organization had student fee revenue of $507,035, of which $354,023 went to salaries and benefits.
In addition to Minniti’s reported income of $126,152, the financial statements outlined $101,117 in back pay he received that year, which “relates to a retroactive pay adjustment” for a period between November 2005 and November 2010.
In a separate note, the financial statements added that “uncertainty exists as to whether a further sum to a maximum amount of $88,117 may still be owing” to Minniti.
They also describe Minniti’s recent termination. “As a result, severance pay may be owing, however, the amount, if any, is not currently determinable.”
In 2010, MAPS pledged $1 million to the construction of the Wilson Building, a new on-campus liberal arts facility that will be up in place of Wentworth House by 2015. The Association promised to pay that money out over 10 years at $100,000 a year.
MAPS gave only $60,000 to the project in 2010 and gave nothing in 2011.
It also neglected to make good on its 2012 instalment of the pledge, according to Gord Arbeau, McMaster’s Director of Public & Community Relations.
“The project remains on schedule and is moving ahead as planned,” said Arbeau about the Wilson Building’s construction, the bulk of which is funded by a grant from the Ontario government and a donation by McMaster’s chancellor Lynton (Red) Wilson.
“As 2012 progressed, the University’s focus on was gaining an understanding of MAPS’ financial and business practices, and the focus now is on ensuring that MAPS enacts the requirements that we laid out in our statement last week.”
MAPS’ Feb. 5 annual general meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Gilmour Hall 111.