BSU, SA disagree on group’s status as umbrella organization

By Jackie Nevarez

Student Association President Jack Barry said breaches to SA bylaws spurred controversy in a supplemental funding case, according to a statement Wednesday.

On April 6, SA Senate voted to allocate the Black Student Union $8,925 in supplemental funding. The action passed with 17 yeas, 15 nays and three abstentions. In his statement, Barry said he investigated the case due to the controversy surrounding the Senate’s alleged racially motivated debate and approval of the funding.

According to Barry’s statement, the SA Senate did not act in accordance with the bylaws, while BSU’s budget decrease, which is what led to the supplemental funding request, was due to BSU’s structure and not a racial bias.

SA Senate

“First, I must agree with [SA Senate] Speaker [Dillon] Domke that the Senate violated their oath of office by openly violating the bylaws,” Barry said in the statement.

According to the statement, senators failed to process the line items of the BSU’s request before casting a vote. The BSU’s request asked for funding for events like Chill Fest and T-shirts, while supplemental funding is for “emergency circumstances” and conferences, according to SA bylaws. At the SA Senate meeting, BSU President Adewale Adetunji said the events were happening that week, fulfilling the emergency requirement.

In an interview, BSU adviser Derrick Smith said the BSU had to postpone planned events because of its depleted budget. The postponement constituted an emergency and led to the request for supplemental funding, Smith said.

According to Barry’s statement, the senators violated the bylaws by not making sure the funds were distributed to the line items which apply to the SA’s supplemental funding bylaws.

Senators who are BSU members created a conflict of interest by voting and not abstaining, according to Barry’s statement.

Smith said the Senate should have been made aware of the conflict of interest involved in those senators’ votes whether by announcement or citing of the bylaws.

“I urge the Senate to take their positions more seriously and understand that they are entrusted in properly allocating student activity fees,” Barry said in the statement.

In an interview, Barry said any punishment for senators or solution to the Senate’s bylaw violations must be decided by the SA Senate speaker.

Domke did not respond to request for comment Wednesday night.


At the April 6 SA Senate meeting, Adetunji said the BSU is a governing body per its constitution. Adetunji’s claim the organization is a governing body, an organization consisting of SA-recognized organization and not students, is not in the constitution or recognized as such by the SA, according to Barry’s statement.

Smith said the BSU has a different definition of an umbrella organization, or governing body.

“[BSU’s definition of] a governing body is not like SA where we budget money,” Smith said. “We mean … as an umbrella [organization], we’re gonna bring people of campus to raise the consciousness of African Americans and make sure you maintain your culture.”

The BSU’s definition of a governing body is not listed in its bylaws, but has been a part of the BSU’s mission since the constitution was established, Smith said.

For fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, the BSU has been allocated a budget of $1,800, though it requested $16,075. The organization was allocated $4,500 in fiscal year 2014.

According to Barry’s statement, BSU included unapproved budget line items to the sum of $3,740 from its fiscal year 2014 budget in its supplemental funding request. It is against SA policy to approve supplemental funding for items rejected in the budget.

Smith said the budget the BSU was given for the current fiscal year did not state what line items were denied, giving the group’s members no knowledge of what could or could not be asked for in supplemental funding.

Barry’s statement attributes a late budget request and the absence of BSU’s leaders from two scheduled budget meetings to the decrease in money allocated to the organization.

“I personally cannot take BSU’s past claims of targeted budget cuts seriously when they did not take their own request seriously,” Barry said in the statement.

Supplemental funds requested for use after the end of the current fiscal year — June 30 — cannot be honored by the SA.

The BSU’s executive board members, including Adetunji, did not respond to request for comment.

SA Supreme Court petition

Joseph Palmer, who was appointed director of Public Affairs for the 2014-2015 academic year by the SA Senate Sunday, petitioned the SA Supreme Court on April 23 to hold a hearing on the constitutionality of action taken by the SA Senate in regard to the supplemental funding provided to the BSU.

In his petition, Palmer said the BSU “is not an SA-recognized governing body as per approved SA bylaws and thus does not have the constitutional right to apply for funding on behalf of other SA recognized student organizations.” The petition states Adetunji “unintentionally or otherwise” led SA senators to believe the BSU should be considered a governing student organization, meaning it governs other student organizations. In his statement, Barry said Adetunji incorrectly identified the BSU as a governing body.

Palmer’s petition also said the members of SA Senate “knowingly, unconstitutionally voted to provide supplemental funding to the BSU for requests” which Palmer argued did not agree with SA’s finance policies. By Sunday, Palmer said the petition had been withdrawn.

“… I just think [Barry’s statement] just resolves the situation in its entirety,” Palmer said. “I think it’s been done factually, efficiently and professionally.”