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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Frivolous Spending, Harassment, Threats Made

    In the summer of 2006, the Undergraduate Student Government Summer Senate unanimously passed a summer budget of $139,000. $8,675 was also unanimously allocated to a Presidential Discretionary Fund for President Romual Jean-Baptiste.

    Using the funds, Jean-Baptiste bought two floor mats costing $1200, a new desk, a new computer, three chairs, a printer, $600 on food and personal transportation to an event, $175 on plaques and pictures, $195 for food at an executive meeting,’ and $421 on new phones. The total for his office supplies amounts to approximately $4,000. The rest of the money was spent on USG t-shirts and an Executive team-building exercise in Sachem, NY, in which transportation for six people was provided.

    The problem, according to several USG members, was the manner in which the Summer Senate was appointed, as well as the lack of overall USG oversight on how the funds were spent.

    The three senators at the Summer Senate meeting, included Cindy Auguste, Monique Dawkins and Savasiah Gardener, all directly appointed by Jean-Baptiste. None of these individuals had any prior USG Senate experience, including regular attendance of the weekly senate meetings.

    Amy Wisnosky, Executive Vice President of the USG was asked if she felt if the senators were in fact appointed for the specific intention to pass the Presidential Discretionary Fund. She replied ‘I have never seen the term Presidential Discretionary Fund before in the USG. There’s never been any USG President corrupt enough to assign himself that much money. And he spent it frivolously and on himself.’

    Wisnosky also noted on the fact that this is the first time she has ever heard the term ‘Presidential Discretionary Fund.’ She attributed this to her opinion that the President was corrupt.

    According to Wisnosky, establishment of the Summer Senate with only three senators was unconstitutional. She also stated in a letter dated March 25 to student media groups on campus that she was harassed and threatened to assemble three Summer senators. In a telephone interview with the Statesman, Wisnosky confirmed that Jean-Baptiste harassed her for weeks to assemble the Summer Senate appointed by’ Jean-Baptiste to transfer the money to the Discretionary Fund.

    Jean-Baptiste has disagreed on the question of constitutionality in regards to the USG Constitution. In addition, there was a phone call made by Senator Alexsandra Borodkin to Wisnosky, in which Borodkin threatened her with impeachment if she did not follow suite. Borodkin remains confident that she had that level of influence at the time.

    In the aforementioned letter, Wisnosky recalled on the phone call from Borodkin. She confirmed on the phone, ‘She urged me to form the Summer Senate with whomever I could get, and mentioned something about her and her friends having a lot of luck with Supreme Court cases, she ended the phone call by asking me, did I want to get impeached?’

    In a telephone interview, Jean-Baptiste has stated that he did not ask Senator Borodkin to make this phone call.

    When asked about making this phone call, Borodkin responded, ‘Yes that happened, though not that way. I told her that the Reform Party basically had control over the Senate and Judiciary and could get her fired if she didn’t convene the Senate.’ Both Borodkin and Jean-Baptiste are members of the Reform Party, while Wisnosky is not.

    Borodkin mentioned that the reason she made the phone call was because the 2006 Summer Budget needed to be dispersed to student clubs and activities to function. This was the first year the Summer Senate assembled in recent history. In the past, the summer funds were distributed without a Summer Senate.

    President Pro Tempore Robert Romano, who has had a long tenure with USG, said that the budget had been historically passed without the Senate’s approval.

    By all accounts, the budget written by Executive Treasurer Stephen Hui went unquestioned. Wisnosky noted that the only noteworthy occurrence at the meeting was the passing of the Presidential Discretionary Fund.

    Wisnosky said, ‘It is not necessary that the Summer Senate be convened. Stephen Hui had already written the budget.’ Hui confirmed that account, ‘Yes I wrote the budget and it was passed to my memory.’

    Opinions on the constitutionality of last year’s Summer Senate seem to be based on the USG Constitution Article X, Section 1, A. ‘The President of the Undergraduate Student Government and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall appoint 10 members to serve on the Summer Senate.’ Jean-Baptiste presumed that this means up to ten senators. Wisnosky said’ this statement meant that the Summer Senate should have at least ten senators.

    Wisnosky said that as soon as Jean-Baptiste took office in the summer of 2006, he immediately expressed his desire to have $8,675 allocated to a Presidential Discretionary Fund. Jean-Baptiste went to Hui to have that done, and he promptly refused. Jean-Baptiste then moved to Wisnosky to assemble a Summer Senate with the three appointed senators, but Wisnosky opposed until the phone call from Borodkin.

    Jean-Baptiste described the conversations with Wisnosky as ‘debates, or something that sounds more professional and less animalistic.’ He went on to say that the money was there and should not be wasted. He said he wanted a Summer Senate because ‘we hadn’t had one in awhile and that would be a good thing to try.’

    Although no laws were broken, it is the the opinion of a few senators that these funds were misused.

    When Hui was asked if he thought that the only reason the senators were appointed was to move $8,675 to the Presidential Discretionary Fund, he responded, ‘Yes, I do.’

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