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California | Education & Student Activism

Financial Inequality: Misuse of Funds and Donations
by Sean Kennedy
Sunday May 6th, 2012 4:46 PM
Focussing on financial inequality and faculty misrepresentation, this is an opinion piece on my perspective of the Sonoma State University administration over the past four years of studying I've been studying at this college. More specifically, I address the faculty's own interactions with the administration that they work for and the lack of representation they have in deciding campus spending and donations.
Financial Inequality: Misuse of Funds and Donations
An Opinion Piece by Sean Kennedy

In the four years I have been at Sonoma State University, I have seen this campus be subject to ridicule from both inside and outside university. I have seen FBI agents show up out of the blue to investigate suspected misappropriation of funds in our university twice. This has started an overall lack of trust amongst the student body, education faculty, and university administration that has been growing since my days as a freshman. In four years, I would think that things might change for the better; however this is not the case at all. In fact, there is even less trust shared between the faculty and the administration.

In a class of twenty five to thirty students, I conducted a group study on the financing of the university. My group and I found that the faculty doesn’t seem to have much of a say in anything anymore amongst the administration’s decision making body and bureaucratic actions. In regards to financial distribution, the budget cuts have devastated the education department’s ability to offer quality education to their students who are already paying large sums of money to learn. And yet, we witness further money being sent to the Green Music Center even though it seems like it should be finished and we see the construction of a new student center mocking us and alienating the student body. Why are these finances going strictly to campus construction for buildings the students never needed? More importantly, why does the faculty not have a say in where finances go?

I found from an interview one of my group members conducted that the administration has even been stealing donation finances from the education departments. The faculty, by university policy, is not allowed to approach donors; they aren’t even advised to handle donors should those donors approach them. In one case, a department head lost one million dollars in donation finances from a donor, who wished to donate directly to that department itself and not to the music center, because they went to the administration on advice for handling the donation. They informed him that they would handle the donation, and that he should not talk with the donor again. Later on, he discovered that the finances he was promised for his department went to the Green Music Center. How can the faculty work for this defunct administration when they can’t even trust them? In the end, the administration is more akin to a tyrannical regime than a facilitator of education, and the student body and faculty are its mercy.