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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Student Association repayed for dinner

A former Student Association official has returned $379 for an Aug. 11 dinner originally paid for with student money.

Senior Mary Mai, who was initially compensated by the SA for the dinner, returned the $379 on Friday.

The dinner, which took place at the upscale Georgetown restaurant Sequoia, led senators to criticize SA President Omar Woodard’s spending as excessive and unnecessary. Mai, formerly Woodard’s chief of staff, resigned earlier this month citing her frustration with the Senate. She declined to comment on her decision to pay back the money.

Woodard said he had no previous knowledge that the governing body would be reimbursed for the dinner and did not order the reimbursement.

Woodard said he plans to pay for his share of the dinner, nearly $52 when split between the eight people who attended.

In an e-mail, Woodard emphasized that Mai was never reimbursed or received any student funds. Rather, Mai will eventually receive an SA check that will be neutralized by the $379 check she wrote to the SA last week.

“Mary paid the SA back because she did not want this to go on anymore,” Woodard said. “She just wanted this story to be over, and this was her way of doing it.”

Ryan Kilpatrick (ESIA-U) supported the move, saying the check was written Friday to “just resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

The expense approval form from the dinner at Sequoia shows that $414.61 was spent on the dinner, which included entrees, desserts, beverages and four glasses of wine.

Woodard initially told The Hatchet that the alcohol – which was consumed by Mai, who is over 21 – was paid for in a separate check. He also initially said that 10 people attended the dinner. But a review of the EAF found that there was only one receipt for an eight-person dinner; four days after the event, on Aug. 15, Mai reimbursed the SA $35.20 for two glasses of red wine and two glasses of white wine.

At Sequoia, SA officials ordered two filet mignons, a New York Strip Steak and a salmon filet, among other items. Several students present at the event said Mai was the only person who consumed alcohol.

In response to The Hatchet’s efforts to gain access to the EAF from the dinner, Woodard created an executive order allowing all financial records to be viewed by the public as long as a request form is completed before they are seen.

“There was no policy in past and my concern was identify theft – any student could come in and look at social numbers, credit card numbers and GWorld numbers,” Woodard said.

Under the new system, Woodard said students will have to notify the SA via a form about which financial record they want to access. The SA’s office is located in Marvin Center room 424.

“The policy doesn’t keep anyone from seeing records,” Woodard said. “It just allows us to know who is seeing them.”

At the Senate meeting Tuesday night, the Sequoia dinner only came up in the senators’ closing comments.

“Now we can all move on from talking about if the dinner was appropriate or not,” said Kyle Spector (ESIA-U), who is also assistant production manager at The Hatchet. “A main concern from the outset was the availability of the EAFs and it is a good thing that this conversation has produced this positive result.”

“I’d like to see the Senate move on,” Josh Lasky (CCAS-U) said. “We should be talking about issues that unite us, not those that divide us.”

At the meeting, Kilpatrick brought up the larger issue of the SA paying for food.

“I agree that all committee chairs should renounce spending SA funds on food,” Kilpatrick said. “People sign up to be on these committees knowing that we’re going to have them, and they shouldn’t spend students’ money on food.”

Some senators disagreed, saying that SA officials should be entitled to eat on the group’s budget at meetings.

“When you’re locked in a room for 12 consecutive hours two days in a row, maybe we’re entitled to eat some food,” Finance Committee chair Jordyan Cosme said, responding to questions about him ordering pizza and Chinese food at Senate meetings this month. “Maybe that should have come out of our own pocket, it’s really a judgment call.”

Kilpatrick and Hilary Golston (CCAS-U), chairs of the Academic Affairs and Student Life committees, turned in checks to the SA on Tuesday night to pay back their share of last year’s transition dinner. The dinner was held at the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown and ran up a bill of more than $6,000.

“From an ideological standpoint, I don’t want to be rewarded with $45 of students’ money,” Golston said.

Kilpatrick also urged all senators at the dinner to reimburse the SA.

“If people are going to be quoted in The Hatchet attacking the executive for a $414 dinner they call excessive, then don’t let students pay for your dinner either,” he said.

But Ben Traverse (CCAS-U) said the Sequoia dinner has made him, as a student, reluctant to give the SA money. Traverse is widely expected to run for SA president in February.

He said, “I don’t feel comfortable giving a check to an SA that has not proven to be fiscally responsible.”

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