College News

MCSC sues SSFC over segregated fee eligibility, alleges violation of due process

MCSC accuses SSFC of vague rules

SSFC Chair Jordan Gaal defended his MCSC and WABM decisions as being viewpoint neutral.

Image By: Brandon Moe

Amid accusations of incomplete documentation and outdated standing rules, the Multicultural Student Coalition is suing the Student Services Finance Committee after being denied eligibility for General Student Services funding.

SSFC defines a first-time applicant as any organization that hasn’t received GSSF funding in the past fiscal year. However, MCSC member Ian Oyler said this rule does not apply to their group because they have been a GSSF organization since 2000 and had a budget as recent as fiscal year 2013.

Oyler said SSFC’s definition of a first-year applicant was too vague, causing confusion which kept MCSC from submitting two additional documents required of first-time applicants.

SSFC Chair Jordan Gaal’s overall response was not helpful in allowing the organization to attain eligibility, Oyler said. The lack of “clear verbal written policy or procedure for lack of satisfactory completion” of applications and out-of-date SSFC standing rules on the website violates the organization’s right to due process, Oyler said, calling those rules “vague, confusing and not standardized.”

Gaal said standing rules were from the 22nd session of SSFC because the 23rd had not made any amendments to them, meaning that they weren’t updated online. The 2017-’18 standing rules were not posted on the ASM website because they were only approved by the committee at the first committee meeting on Sept. 7.

The misunderstanding began when an MCSC representative contacted SSFC Vice Chair Kristi Parsons nine days before the application deadline, Oyler said. Parsons reviewed MCSC’s application and didn’t tell the organization that they were any missing documents.

Gaal defended her correspondence, saying that it was “in no way misleading” because the decision to deny the application came from him. A few days later, MCSC received an email which said their application was denied and that SSFC would not accept it since the organization failed to request an extension beforehand.

MCSC member and Student Council Rep. Ekenedilichukwu Ikegwuani said that on Sept. 5 he spoke with Gaal who told him that if MCSC turned in the first-time eligibility application by the start of the Sept. 7 SSFC meeting, the organization could speak for five minutes on the matter.

In addition, Gaal said he told Ikegwuani that he would check with ASM about the 10-day extension after the first eligibility deadline, but the organization received an email on Sept. 6 notifying them that the Sept. 4 deadline for late eligibility applications had passed.

The following day, Gaal received the email from Oyler which included the missing documents from MCSC’s late application, but Gaal once again pointed out that the deadline for late eligibility applications had passed. Gaal said the date was posted on the ASM website.

Gaal claimed his decision was based in viewpoint neutrality — a duty to hold every prospective group to the same standard.

“The resources are available. The forms are published and clear. The published dates did not allow me to accept their application when it was submitted at 11:59 p.m. and it did not allow time between when they submitted and definitely to request the missing pieces that made the application be incomplete,” Gaal said. “It’s unfortunate, and it is a tough position to be in, but because of the process of fee allocation and operating within viewpoint neutrality and criteria, it was the decision that I believe that I know had to be made in this particular situation.”

The panel will issue a decision regarding this case within 10 business days of Monday, Oct. 16, according to Student Judiciary Vice Chief Justice Ben Smith.

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