The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday September 29th

Congress' plan back_¶ res: In ill-fated attempt to scapegoat organization Congress embarrasses itself

As the details of last week's Concepts of Colors controversy trickle in it has become increasingly apparent that certain members of Student Congress wanted nothing more than a public witch-hunt.

They wanted a fiasco — and they got one.

But the inquiry into Shaniqua McClendon's funding request backfired and instead raised questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the finance committee.

After all of the facts have been presented we believe it is clear that McClendon in no way attempted to deceive Congress regarding her financial request.

The ethics committee ruled similarly stating Sunday that it did not find her guilty of inflation or intending to deceive them.

It seems that Congress simply wanted to scapegoat her organization as an example to other student groups and in the process they bruised McClendon's reputation.

Certainly if Congress receives information that an organization intentionally misrepresented funding requests an investigation should be launched.

But this case was disgracefully handled.

Tim Nichols speaker of Congress only contacted McClendon by e-mail about an hour before he planned to present allegations to Congress.

Nichols stated that he had thought catching McClendon off-guard would ensure her honesty.

The responsible action would have been to contact her beforehand to discuss the details of the case.

McClendon was only informed that the integrity of her funding request was in question a couple hours before Congress was called to order giving her little time to prepare any type of defense.

She was thrust in front of the entire body of Student Congress with almost no knowledge of what she was accused of doing.

The central issue is not with McClendon or her funding request it is with the finance committee.

Although McClendon attached a particularly detailed funding request including listing individual items and prices the finance committee never saw or reviewed this document.

It is unclear why this document was not reviewed but to allow such information to fall through the cracks is irresponsible.

McClendon and her organization simply selected the items they wanted for their performances including some particularly expensive items and the finance committee approved it with little opposition.

We believe student groups should try to be frugal when spending student fees but it's not up to the groups to present the most economical options. It is the finance committee's responsibility to insist that groups economize their requests and to scrutinize them more closely.

Congress' handling of this situation was irresponsible. Its leaders unnecessarily cast McClendon into the public spotlight and embarrassed themselves in the process.

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