$30,000 in missing EUS student fees found

At the April 26 AMS Council meeting, the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) was reported to be missing at least $13,000 in student fees. During The Ubyssey’s later interview with current EUS VP Finance Mark McLellan and former EUS VP Finance Robyn Starkoski, this figure was updated to be approximately $30,000 — the result of three consecutive years of short fees since the 2014/2015 term. 

According to Starkoski, this missing amount was made up exclusively of the $2 engineering design team council (EDTC) fee, which is supposed to go toward “any sort of purchase that an engineering student team might need.”

By the end of April, the fund was found and returned to the EUS. 

According to McLellan, it had been mistakenly diverted to the Engineering Student Centre’s (ESC) loan repayment account for the past three years.

“UBC basically just shifted the accounts because originally it was going to the ESC, which technically is us, but it has a different AMS account code,” he said. “It was basically paying more than we needed to pay off the building, so it was brought back to the general student fee account. It didn’t seem like it was malicious … it was just one wrong code allocation or something.”

Teresa Tsang, associate director of Student Financial Services, attributed the error to a miscommunication between the two staffs who processed the fee, where one failed to ask for clarification before allocating it to the ESC’s account instead of the EUS’s account. 

She further noted that certain fee structures have become more complicated in recent years.

“It just happened to this particular component for the EUS, and the other [undergraduate societies’ fees] are all very clear and fine,” said Tsang. “Usually it’s not common for us to have a lot of components within one fee so that’s why.”

Starkoski also shared this observation.

“The reason why we brought it up at Council was to make sure that other undergraduate societies check to make sure they have received all the money they should be,” she said. “We don’t believe that it has happened in the EUS before ... it is only the past few years that the EUS's fees have gotten more complicated.”

Moving forward, Tsang stated that procedures have been modified in order to mitigate the miscommunication that caused the error. 

“We also changed our procedure to make sure that it is clear when the team member adds in the new fee,” she said. “[Whenever there’s a new fee], she is going to talk to our processing staff about which fee it should be under for the new fee component.”

Increased communication is also McLellan and Starkoski’s chosen method for avoiding similar problems in the future. 

“I think it would be good to have a conversation at the start of each year with the AMS to make sure that they are passing on the right allocation of fees for the Board to pass,” said Starkoski. “I guess checking in Enrolment Services as well because that’s where the problem was. This year, it was communicated with everyone.”

An earlier version of this article misspelled Robyn Starkoski and Teresa Tsang’s names. The Ubyssey regrets this error.