By Pat Holohan, Staff Writer
Though The Hofstra Chronicle's original problem with the Student Government Association (SGA) was a frozen budget, the trial before the University's Judicial Panel revealed miscommunication between the two sides as the major problem. The Chronicle also criticized SGA's auditing process as a whole. As of press time, the Judicial Panel has not released an official verdict about the case.
Chief among the problems discussed by both sides was how SGA decides to audit clubs. The Chronicle's representatives, Editor-in-Chief Stephen Cooney, Editor-at-Large Ryan Broderick, and Managing Editor Lindsay Christ said that SGA was guilty of singling out The Chronicle for auditing. SGA, represented by Comptroller Brian Marquis, Parliamentarian Mike Brandt and Ethics and Conduct Chair Tyler Greenpope, denied this, and at some points said that the auditing was random. At others, however, Marquis said that The Chronicle's large budget ($20,000) was a factor in auditing and Brandt said that the group did audit The Chronicle every semester, but that it was not something he felt SGA could be considered "guilty" of.
The frozen budget was a result of an email that SGA sent to The Chronicle that they had to respond to an audit, which Cooney said that he did not receive. As a result, SGA froze the Chronicle's budget in a subsequent email, 72 hours after sending the first. Cooney said he had a problem that there had not been more communication before the freezing. "Clubs have a right to know that this is going on," he said.
Upon learning of the frozen budget, Cooney spoke with SGA Vice President Akeem Mellis as opposed to the comptroller, out of confusion over why the budget had been frozen. "I would have responded differently if I had been told, ‘Your budget is going to be frozen.'" The Chronicle had not been listed on the agenda at previous SGA meetings as a club that was in danger of being frozen, and Cooney said he skipped steps in unfreezing the budget because he felt there was a problem with the policy series itself.
The Chronicle team also said that SGA should not have the ability to freeze the income of a club. Through its policy series, SGA has the ability to control all of a club's funds, even if the club is bringing in money for itself. In the case of The Chronicle, the paper makes money through advertising.
Marquis said of the policy series, "It's worked up until now," but added, "It could be tweaked."
The Chronicle also took issue with a sign that had been hung in the SGA office after the budget freezing, which implied that if the paper wanted free speech then it should not ask SGA to fund it as well. Student Services Chair Luke Miedriech, speaking as a witness, said that the sign showed no bias against The Chronicle.
Broderick responded by asking, "Our two choices are free speech, and you guys don't pay for it, or we have no free speech, and you guys can pay for it?"
Miedriech said that was not the case, and that the sign was only an opinionated response to an editorial which he called "grossly out of order." The cartoon in The Chronicle from the previous week, had shown Marquis as a puppet and mocked SGA.
The trial ended with a resolution between the two groups to speak about the frozen budget. "Student government would be more than happy to have a one on one with you guys," said Brandt. He added later, "The trial itself seems like a lot of miscommunication."
Cooney said that his objective was for everyone to realize the issues discussed about the policy series. "Everyone can clearly see that there's a bunch of problems with a 40-year-old policy series."