Report calls for Frosh Week checks, balances

Vice-President (University Affairs) recommends separate budget; co-ordinator won’t hire successor

AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell went through each invoice in the Orientation Round Table account to verify the cost of Frosh Week for each faculty society.
AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell went through each invoice in the Orientation Round Table account to verify the cost of Frosh Week for each faculty society.
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AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell released her report on the Orientation Round Table (ORT) Feb. 28, recommending new checks for the Round Table Co-ordinator to prevent a repeat of financial and communication irregularity last year.

Mitchell presented the report, which she worked on with Campus Activities Commissioner Caroline DuWors, at last week’s AMS Assembly meeting.

Assembly mandated she complete the report following financial inconsistencies and a lack of communication concerning Frosh Week 2007.

Commerce Society President Dave Waugh put forward the motion to review ORT’s operation after ComSoc and several other faculty societies received bills for Frosh Week 2007 that far exceeded what they budgeted.

Earlier this week, Mitchell said she was still confirming numbers with a few faculty societies. She said the report took more than a month to complete because it involved an audit of the entire account.

“I had to go through every single invoice made in an account of over $200,000 and then subsequently find out why it was purchased, where it was from, and whether or not it was accounted for,” she said.

Mitchell told the Journal she wasn’t surprised with what she found.

In the report, she says she expected the distribution of charges among faculty societies to change because of inaccurate allocation of expenses by ORT.

“Despite the fact ORT did not provide any warning or details as to why the aforementioned increase occurred, the money has nevertheless been spent and is unrecoverable,” Mitchell wrote in the report.

The Orientation Report looks at financial accountability, communication processes and ORT’s structure. It recommends the AMS train the ORT Co-ordinator to deal with budgeting, accounting and record-keeping.

Mitchell said she’s going to go through her report with Jeff Waite, ORT Co-ordinator for Frosh Week 2008.

“I think it’s important for him to understand my process that I went through in the audit and how I separated things into faculty societies,” she said.

Mitchell said she has created several checks and balances for ORT, outlined in the report.

“Not everyone is amazing at accounting and we can’t expect people to know 100 per cent how to do this type of thing,” she said.

The report recommends the co-ordinator distribute biweekly account statements during the summer, as well as forms detailing each item ORT orders on behalf of faculty societies.

In addition, the ORT report states the ORT budget should be approved by the ORT Co-ordinator and faculty society orientation committees in April.

Mitchell said another important recommendation is that ORT should have its own budget. Previously, it appeared as a one-line item in the budget for the Campus Activities Commission.

“Given the scale to which ORT has grown over the years, we need to account for the complexity of the account,” she said.

Mitchell’s report also emphasizes communication, recommending the ORT Co-ordinator act as a liaison between SOARB and ORT because SOARB meets separately and makes decisions that can have an effect on Frosh Week.

The ORT Co-ordinator should provide information to faculty societies about decisions SOARB makes.

In addition, ORT should distribute event planning forms and fee-approval forms for slogans and t-shirt designs, the report says.

During Frosh Week 2007, there were errors with the T-shirts printed for the Computing Students’ Association.

The report includes four recommendations about ORT’s structure, such as the makeup of the hiring committee for the ORT Co-ordinator position.

Two members of the AMS executive will now be required to sit on the hiring committee, as well as the Campus Activities Commissioner.

The previous ORT Co-ordinator will no longer be involved in hiring his or her successor.

It also focuses on creating a transition manual for the position.

Mitchell said the AMS withholds $200 from their staff’s salaries at the end of the year until they submit a transition manual.

She recommends the AMS withhold $500 from the ORT Co-ordinator until he or she submits the manual.

“Given everything that’s happened this year and this so-called hype around ORT, we’ve increased the amount of money that’s withheld,” Mitchell said. “Transition is paramount.”

Mitchell said most of the faculty societies are very happy with the results of the audit.

“Now that they are confident that it’s accurate I don’t think they really have a huge problem with [the bills],” she said, adding that the biggest concerns were about transparency and accountability.

“From what I understand everyone’s pretty happy with the results. It is reflective of what they actually had purchased.”

All of the faculty societies were given a full breakdown of the budget along with the report.

Former ORT Co-ordinator Ryan Shoemaker said the recommendations included in the report are great.

“If any of this information or training had been provided by the AMS or the AMS executive, then this entire situation could have been avoided.”

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