UB: A year in review
Published: Friday, June 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
To help you avoid potential embarrassment in conversation with upperclassmen, The Spectrum has compiled a list of the 2011-12 stories that had the UB campus talking. Take a few minutes to catch yourself up on everything from a $300,000 scandal to an infamous Fall Fest flop.
There’s No App for That
$300,000 Scandal Results in SA Treasurer’s Resignation
The end of last year wrapped up in Student Association scandal.
Treasurer for the 2011-12 academic year Sikander Khan and Vice President Meghan McMonagle attempted to spend $300,000 of student money on a mobile web application before President JoAnna Datz halted the alleged project.
The application, spearheaded by Khan, was entangled with scandal from the start. The company Khan was working with, Virtual Academix, appeared to be fraudulent.
Datz launched an investigation of the app and how close the SA came to getting duped and gave the 100-page report to police in March. The SA’s report stated that an application described like the one in the contract Khan and McMonagle had signed should cost between $50,000 and $150,000 – a far reach from the pending $300,000 contract.
The District Attorney’s office determined that Khan and McMonagle did not act criminally.
The Spectrum investigated the company more closely, and reported it was comprised of three UB alumni, including former SA president Mohammod Vaqar Hussain, who sources said came from a long line of SA corruption. Vaqar was also a Muslim Student Association president, a position Khan held before becoming SA treasurer.
Ted Miale, the “vice president” of Virtual Academix, gave the presentation on the company’s product to the SA executive board as a “favor for a friend” the morning he learned about the application.
But he more The Spectrum probed those involved, the more they vanished or declined for comment.
The Spectrum sent reporters to the “headquarters” of Abadan, Inc., which Virtual Academix was an assumed name for. It was a residential home. The home belongs to the father of Omar Mehr, another UB alum. Mehr appears to be the owner of Virtual Academics and graduated with Hussain. Mehr refused to comment and stated he hired a lawyer.
As the connections continued to pile up, Khan neglected to comment or answer The Spectrum’sgrowing list of questions.
The SA Senate started a petition that demanded Khan’s recall. Khan resigned a few days shy of the end of the spring semester in a letter and without comment.
Financial Aid Changes Leave Students Upset
August & September 2011
This time last year, UB implemented a few changes and left some students upset, especially in the realms of financial aid.
HUB, UB’s online system used for things like checking grades, registering for classes, and accepting financial aid awards, had just been unrolled at the end of the previous semester and the drop/add period for classes was reduced from two weeks to one. While the adjustments left some students frustrated, the biggest upset came from the change in financial aid disbursement.
Financial aid, including loans and scholarships, were given out about three weeks later than in previous years. The Student Response Center (SRC) received over 10,000 phone calls in one day – the most calls in one day within the center’s history. Students were distraught and blamed SRC for being unable to afford books, groceries, and rent.
Students’ animosity grew when Jennifer Pollard, the interim director of financial aid, stated students should take responsibility for their expenses and not depend solely on financial aid.
A protest of about 50 students erupted in Founder’s Plaza in opposition to Pollard’s comments and what students felt was a poor advertisement of the new university policy.
The Collins Controversy
Illegal Contributions Made by UBF
Not too far into the fall semester, The Spectrum uncovered a questionable donation made by the University at Buffalo Foundation, Inc. (UBF) to Erie County Executive Chris Collins’ re-election campaign.