The Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee met this week to determine how the student activity fee will be used for the upcoming year, finalizing votes from SUPB Senate and input from Vice President for Student Affairs Mark McCarthy.
This past year, however, the SAF was used in a way that did not directly support the students. Former VP for Student Affairs Patrick Rombalski allocated $14,000 for Edward Peck, an adviser for the singing group Rhapsody Blue and the JCU hockey team.
Of all the on-campus programs that require advisers, Peck was the only one who was paid with SAF money.
“For the first five years when I started here – when I started Rhapsody Blue and started working with the hockey team – I was a John Carroll employee,” Peck said. In years prior, Peck was associate dean of the grad school.
Junior Jill White, vp for business affairs on the Student Union Programming Board and co-chair of SAFAC said, “That [to allocate the money] was a decision that was made by Patrick Rombalski. The SAFAC had nothing to do with it. It was a decision made by Patrick Rombalski and Father Niehoff essentially.”
Rombalski and the Rev. Niehoff were unavailable for comment. Rombalski left JCU last May, and is currently working at Boston College and attempts to reach Rev. Niehoff, president of JCU, via phone, were referred to Mark McCarthy, vp for student affairs.
McCarthy said, “Last year, my guess, without putting words in the mouth of the person that’s not here anymore, it was the vision on the part of the Vice President that one of the ways to enhance student life on campus would be to support a person who is serving as an adviser to several organizations.”
Although this money was allocated for these programs, it is not all Peck’s salary, nor does he receive all $14,000 – a small portion goes to fringe benefits.
While some staff members received SAF money, this situation was unique since Peck was the only adviser being paid.
Peck said, “By being paid this money, I was still a John Carroll employee and because of that, I could still be the advisers for Rhapsody Blue and the hockey team.”
This situation does not break any rules or regulations by the University.
“There is discretion. There’s no law, thereís no restriction that the moneys canít be utilized to support staff who work with student programs,î said McCarthy. ìIn fact, some money does go to that. There is money thatís allocated out of the SAF that does support some staffing.
The advisors to student organizations, by and large, are unpaid, McCarthy said.
However, McCarthy feels that allocating money to one advisor and not all advisors would create problems for SAFAC.
ìWith this kind of payment there would never be enough SAF funds to cover all of these and similar expenses,î McCarthy said. ìItís my understanding that since the students are paying the fee, their input and decision making on how to best allocate the money is really critical.î
White said, ìDr. McCarthy has been kind of on board the entire time with us. Heís been really good with interacting at meetings, just kind of to see whatís going on. Heís making sure that if he has any concerns he addresses them in the beginning instead of the end.î
There are five members on SAFAC. Three of them are students and two are staff members.
Every semester, students pay a $200 student activity fee, or SAF. Then, SAFAC makes original recommendations for how that money will be spent. Next, the SUPB Senate votes on these allocations, decided by a 2/3 majority vote. Finally, the decisions are taken to Dr. McCarthy for final discretion.
ìEssentially he says yes or no, then tells Fr. Niehoff whatís happening to make sure thereís no problems,î said White. ìBut really because so much of it is student activities and student affairs itís really Dr. McCarthyís final say.î
Dr. McCarthy looks at SAFACís intentions, and bases his discretion to decide what will ultimately enhance life on campus.
McCarthy said, ìBasically it is to provide for opportunities for student activities to the life on campus, and in all its different forms. Some of it goes to support student organizations, some of it goes to club sports and recreations so that we can keep the Corbo room running [for example].î
Typically, the SAF goes to SUPB for things relating to campus activity and events. But, the fee also serves a lot of other student activities on campus related to recreation, student organizations and categories.
For example, White said that a portion of the SAF was allocated to groups within campus ministry, since they lost endowments and lots of their funds were missing.