Last Wednesday, Director of the Office of Student Life (OSL) Doug Schiazza and Associate Director of OSL Mike Bodnarik reached an agreement with College Council (CC) for OSL to pay the repair costs of rugby’s goal post after OSL approved the repair costs in advance of CC’s approval.
According to OSL, the goal post was damaged by a windstorm, and repairs were immediately approved over spring break “to help ensure the repairs were done in time for rugby to have their season.” Schiazza cited the precedent set by a previous damaged goal post in the summer of 2018, during which Facilities fixed the post prior to CC’s approval and OSL’s knowledge. “We approved the immediate repairs [this spring] based on what CC had just done in the previous (and nearly identical) situation,” he said. “ Mike had advised the men’s rugby team president and vice president to contact CC to request funding; he did not speak directly with the CC treasurer about it.”
Rugby Co-President Seth Goldstein ’19 said the team was notified by Bodnarik that the repair was already set in motion and that rugby should request funding from CC. Rugby Treasurer Alexander Szrol ’21 added, “As the treasurer, I was not looped in until after the repair was set in place, so no student on Rugby had any impact on how this was dealt with.”
Because the repair noticeably lacked any input and involvement from rugby or CC, Schiazza stated, “Although OSL’s intent was good (supporting a CC-recognized RSO), as I shared during the [April 23 CC] meeting, we should not have allowed the spring 2019 repairs to occur in advance of CC’s approval, regardless, and I own the responsibility for it as the director of OSL.”
CC treasurer Jamie Vaccaro ’21 clarified that, while facilities repaired the goal post and reported to their administrative contact in OSL, the costs are supposed to be funded by CC, which is “implicitly the underwriter on these kinds of damages.” CC Co-President Ellie Sherman ’20 added, “[CC’s] policy is that we will fund things that are integral to the functioning of a club. It seems to us that if rugby needs goal posts to play and one of their goal posts are down, we should fix it and put it back up.”
Sherman said that, because CC’s budget comes from the student activities tax and members are elected to represent students in how the budget is allocated, the issue lies not in who funds the repair but how the cost is processed and approved. “The problem [with OSL approving the repair] is that this is exactly what the [treasurer’s] discretionary fund is for, for when council can’t meet and we need to make a decision or we need to approve something or allocate money and there’s not [enough] time to run it through the regular budgetary process… It shouldn’t have gone to OSL, is the bottom line,” she said.
Sherman also noted that OSL’s immediate approval of the goal post repairs highlights the relative advantages some student organizations enjoy when requesting funds. “A great example is the Black Previews event, which had a lot of trouble getting their P-card and getting their funding from OSL,” Sherman said. “They were redirected to the Davis Center, and they were redirected multiple other times.”
While CC confirmed that the repair costs typically should have come from the CC budget, OSL will cover the roughly $3300 cost in this particular case, an agreement reached by both parties during the meeting last Wednesday. “We were also in agreement that, moving forward, OSL will pay very close attention to defer to CC on these things, regardless of timing or any intention of ‘just trying to help,” Schiazza said. “It’s CC’s place to make these decisions, not OSL’s.”