FSA should be clear, students should care where their money is going

Students should care about where student money goes, regardless of the purchase date.

In today’s issue of The Spectrum, we reported on the Faculty Student Association’s 1964 land investment. FSA, now heading Campus Dining & Shops, purchased the land with student money, and sold the land in 1987, making a profit of $589,000.

Sub-Board I, an organization now in charge of student funds, was once a part of FSA and was created after FSA bought the land. SBI left FSA and became the fiscal agent for student funds in 1972. 

This means FSA now controls the $1.5 million asset from the land purchase’s money and the land sale’s profit, after it was no longer involved in managing student fees from student governments.

FSA planned on creating a golf course with the land and went as far as hiring a contractor for $12,000. This never came to fruition.

FSA board members did not comment on the matter after numerous attempts to contact them throughout the past week.

This should be alarming to students, despite how long ago FSA made the purchase. FSA is controlling student money and its lack of clarity on the matter is concerning.

When FSA and SBI finalized a contract in 1988, they established a programming grant fund –– a fund that provides FSA the principal, or initial money received, toward the land. It also provides SBI interest on FSA’s principal investment.

The fund is now a nearly $1.5 million asset, but FSA is in control of the fund’s principal. SBI received $85,000 in interest last year, according to SBI’s executive director Bill Hooley.

FSA board members in 1988 said they found “no documents…to determine what percentage of the [land’s] purchasing amount was from student fees,” according to Spectrum archives.

But The Spectrum found documents detailing the purchase in one hour of library research.

For an organization that once held student funds, FSA owes it to the UB community to explain this purchase 50-plus years later.

In 2023, SBI has the opportunity to take control of the $1.5 million asset, which it wants to invest the same way as FSA. But FSA has to agree to the transfer of the principal. This money, if in the hands of SBI, could fund many clubs and services on campus that may currently be struggling financially.

Regardless of how long ago FSA sold this land or how complex the situation is, this is student money. As students we deserve to know what we’re paying for and who’s controlling our fees, even if the money is over 50 years old.  

The editorial board can be reached at opinion@ubspectrum.com