Finboard Head Quits over Bush FundBy Daniel C. Stevenson
Associate Night Editor
Last night, Undergraduate Association Finance Board Chair David J. Kessler '94 and two Finboard officers resigned from their positions. Their resignation is the latest development in the controversy surrounding the UA President's use of a discretionary fund and the disclosure of the fund's records to campus publications.
The action by Kessler, Finboard Vice Chair Per E. Juvkam-Wold '94, and Finboard Secretary James T. Kirtley Jr. G followed a meeting of the UA Executive Committee yesterday afternoon. At the meeting UA Treasurer Raajnish A. Chitaley '95 made a motion to suspend Kessler from his office for violating UA rules governing the disclosure of account information. The motion was later tabled for discussion at the next UA Council meeting.
Kessler has admitted to sending copies of transaction records of the Vannevar Bush '16 Fund to The Tech, The Thistle, and Counterpoint. The $4,500 a year fund is under the discretionary control of the UAP. Recent controversy has focused on the use of the fund by current UAP Hans C. Godfrey '93 and his recent predecessors.
In a joint resignation letter, Kessler, Juvkam-Wold, and Kirtley said they stepped down because they were "apologetic for giving the Vannevar Bush '16 Fund transaction reports to the MIT campus newspapers."
At an informal meeting of council members last Wednesday, Chitaley and UA Vice President Anne S. Tsao '94 expressed their disappointment that Kessler had gone to the press instead of approaching the UAC directly about his concern with the Bush Fund.
As further reason for resignation, Kessler and the former officers said they believed the UA executive officers were making a "coordinated attempt to undermine the effectiveness of the Finance Board." The Finboard leaders were concerned that UA infighting has jeopardized the fund allocation process.
The officers' resignation comes at an important time for Finboard. The spring term budget compilation meeting, where funding is allocated to student groups for next term, is coming up in the next few weeks.
Godfrey said that in light of the recent events, he will ask the UAC to postpone the budget meeting for one week so that Finboard can reorganize. No student groups will be inconvenienced by the Finboard problems, according to both Godfrey and Chitaley.
Argument over fund disclosure
At yesterday's executive committee meeting, Chitaley charged that Kessler's actions were illegal and that he should be removed from his office. "I think [Kessler's] actions were despicable, duplicitious, and dubious," said Chitaley after the meeting.
Chitaley argued that the Bush Fund is governed by the same rules that govern student association accounts. Records of student group accounts are not allowed to be released without the UAP's consent.
Kessler said that he was within his legal rights to distribute the information and that he broke no UA rules. Chitaley challenges that because the Bush Fund account was so similar to student association accounts, including being kept in the same database, it should be governed by the same disclosure rules.
However, the letter stated that Kessler, Juvkam-Wold, and Kirtley "believe the Bush Fund to be very different than all of the other student accounts" in that it should not be kept private.
Godfrey said he appreciates the fact that the Bush Fund is public knowledge, but he stressed that it should be up to the current UAP to disclose the individual expenditures.
Although the entire controversy has resulted in some negative publicity for the UA, Godfrey said it will have some good results. It brought attention to the UA, and he hopes to channel this attention into greater student interest and participation.
Godfrey expects the executive committee to meet today to discuss the resignation and the current Finboard situation.