By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Un-approved fees cause CWU to be audited

By Kyle Fenton

A whistleblower investigation by the State Auditor’s Office showed Central Washington University took improper action in a student quarterly fee increase, later to be corrected.

State law authorizes students to voluntarily impose fees upon themselves. These fees can be created or increased by the student government through majority vote, or an equivalent process adopted under law.

Fees of the Past

In 1997, the student body approved an initiative that created a voluntary quarterly fee for the University’s athletic program. The fee was $35 each quarter, for each student enrolled at the University’s Ellensburg campus.

In 2009, the fee was increased to $42 each quarter, for each student.

The Whitstleblowing

The State Auditor’s office received a whistleblower complaint claiming the Vice President for Business Affairs at CWU violated state law, by improperly increasing the quarterly athletic fee for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. The complaint was that the students or the student government did not get notice of the athletic fee increase prior to it being approved.

“There was no intent to deceive anyone,” said Linda Schactler, Director of CWU Public Affairs.

After reviewing the University’s website and meeting minutes for the Associated Students Central Washington University Board of Directors (ASCWU-BOD) from Sep 27, 2012 through Jun 4, 2013, the State Auditor’s Office found no record showing that students had anything to do with the increase to the athletic fee, prior to its recommendation for it to be approved by the university’s budget and finance committee.

Former ASCWU-BOD President, Bryan Elliott, said that on May 7, 2013 Sarah Swager, the Dean of Student Success, informed the student government that the Budget and Finance Committee approved its recommendation five days prior to them knowing about it. The student government however did not object. One month later on Jun 7, 2013, The Board of Trustees approved increases to the fees.

Fixing the Mistake

The corrective action taken by CWU has to do with an amended policy for fee changes, to ensure future compliance with state law.

“We worked collaboratively with administration to ensure that students have a voice in accordance with state law, and that there is continuity in the policy to ensure that another situation doesn’t happen again,” Elliott said.

The University collected $1.23 million in athletic fees during the 2013-2014 school year. Using the $9 increase from $42 to $51 the State’s Auditor Office calculated that there was $215,736 in athletic fees not properly approved by the students in accordance with state law.

“Until the next set of fees come up, and we are called to do another audit, there is nothing to be done,” Jim Brownell, Whistleblower Manager, said.  Brownell was talking on the fact that the State Auditor’s Office found no person at fault.


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