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Vassar College Student Government Heavily in Debt

Vassar College Student Government Heavily in Debt

Math is hard.

Maybe student government should have spent more time on accounting, and less time trying to boycott Israel.

The Miscellany News reports:

VSA debt raises tough questions about budget oversight

Shahid Naeem had a bad feeling. The third year political science major, who has served as the Vassar Student Association (VSA) 2016-17 Chair of Finance, had a gnawing suspicion all year that the VSA budget didn’t quite add up. “Something didn’t seem right to me,” he said.

So a few weeks ago, Naeem sat down with VSA advisor and Associate Director of Campus Activities Michelle Ransom to run the numbers and try to figure out exactly what was going on. It turned out that his hunch was correct. Something was, indeed, very wrong: The VSA had a deficit of at least $150,000.

“When I walked out of this meeting, I came to terms with the fact that none of these numbers [that had been bothering me] were mistakes,” Naeem recalled, adding, “I just felt really tired.” For her part, Ransom wasn’t shocked. “I’ve worked here for 24 years, so not much surprises me,” she said. The situation, which Naeem described as a “perfect storm,” required immediate action. On April 4, he announced that until further notice, all VSA Special Purpose Funds would be frozen.

The exact reasons for the six-figure budget discrepancy are manifold and are still being worked out. The precise amount of debt is not yet known. What is known, however, is that one of the largest contributing factors to the deficit was the disparity between the amount of student activities fees the VSA expected to collect and the amount that actually came in.


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When I was at Vassar back in the early 90’s, there was also a funding shortage related to the student groups — only it was discovered that a certain student had been embezzling funds. This was at the end of senior year and it was not known just how long this person had been stealing but it was suspected that they had been at it for awhile.

The whole thing was extremely political due to certain issues and the student got a mere slap on the wrist, even though other students had been punished far more severely for similar transgressions.

The kicker? Recently I got curious about what had happened to them in the long run. Turns out that this person is now a Professor of Ethics at Vanderbilt University. You can’t make this stuff up.

So Vassar is preparing their students for elected governmental positions after graduation?

Um, why isn’t the VSA balancing their books once a semester, rather than once every 10 years as they seem to be doing? Is it because Vassar is (or at least was) so elite that it does not have any accounting students or faculty around?