Investigation greets students with disbelief

Ashlee Clark

Cameron Yancey thought he was dreaming when he first found out about the investigation into the Student Government Association’s funds.

Yancey, a sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., said he first found out about the investigation into potential misuse of SGA funds early Tuesday morning through an e-mail from SGA President John Bradley.

“I was shocked,” he said.

But reality took hold of SGA as an investigation into SGA fund improprieties began on Monday.

Nick Todd, SGA president-elect and the current vice president of finance, is suspected of misusing as much as $1,000 from an SGA Dining Dollars account.

Some members of SGA shared Yancey’s initial disbelief when they first learned of the investigation.

Bradley said he was not expecting a situation like the misuse of funds to happen within SGA.

“None of us expected this, no one suspected there was a problem until Friday,” he said.

Bradley said he thinks many people involved in SGA are “saddened” by everything that has happened in the past few days, but there is also frustration and anger about the situation.

“We don’t know much, and that’s also feeding our frustration and anger,” he said.

Edmonton junior Alicia Bachicha, an SGA member, said the organization needs to prove whether funds were actually misused.

Dana Lockhart, a senior from Hendersonville, Tenn., and SGA justice, said students may need to hold student government more accountable.

“It’s my hope that the truth and all the complexities of this matter come out and students take a long look and they start pushing for change,” he said.

Lockhart also said he would no longer be involved in the investigation as a justice.

Student judicial affairs, the university internal auditor and the campus police have now taken over the investigation into the missing funds.

Former SGA President Leslie Bedo, who served during the 2001-02 school year, said it would have been difficult to misuse SGA funds while she was in office.

She said SGA transactions had to be approved by student activities officials.

“When we were there, it would have been very unlikely that a student could get away with that,” she said.

Amy Hardin, a former SGA vice president of finance, said she made sure she went through the proper channels when handling SGA money.

“I would just get very nervous when I was working with the school’s money,” she said.

President Gary Ransdell said his first reaction to the potential misuse of SGA funds was disappointment.

“We’re talking about a future member of our governing board,” he said of the SGA president’s position on the Board of Regents. “That makes it a serious matter for the university.”

It is not clear how long the investigation into the misuse of funds may last.

Some SGA members said they think the effects of the investigation may last into next semester.

“We will be hearing echoes of this for a while and we will be dealing with the byproducts,” Jackson junior Josh Collins said.

Radcliff sophomore Katie Dawson, an SGA member and executive vice president-elect, said she thinks whatever happens in the investigation brings everyone in SGA closer together.

“As far as morale is concerned, it is a bump in the road, but it is by no means going to drag down the organization,” she said.

SGA’s last meeting of the year was Tuesday. A judicial council meeting will be held tonight.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected]