The Student Government Association (SGA) allocated a $7,000 budget for this year’s production of “Price of Silence.”
The SGA had tabled the first budget proposal last semester.
The SGA asked Jason Jeremias, the creator of “Price of Silence,” for a more detailed proposal due to problems with the budget checks during last year’s production.
“Last year we allocated a lot of money towards it and there were a lot of things that went wrong,” said Oswald Feliz, president of SGA.
Fearing the opposition to fund “Price of Silence” from a couple of members of the SGA, Jeremias circulated a petition amongst students and faulty to show their support for the production.
At the same time, Jason put the blame on SGA officials, especially former SGA President Rafael Abbondanza, for mishandling receipts and other documents such as W-9 forms.
On February of last year, the production received a $10,000 budget, which was also what Jeremias asked for in his first budget proposal for this year’s show.
After the SGA tabled his first proposal, Jeremias learned about the issues the school had with tracking the money last year due to lost receipts.
Jeremias claims that the SGA lost W-9 forms on three different occasions resulting in some cast members not getting paid.
Oldane Whilby, a band member who worked with “Price of Silence” during the Spring of 2013, supports this claim and said, “We had to wait almost a month and a half to get paid and had to fill out paperwork twice because they lost it the first time; the paperwork had our social security numbers on them.”
Rafael Abbondanza, who was the president of the SGA during Fall 2012 and Spring 2013, denied this and said, “There had been talk of the SGA losing some contracts which contained some personal information (including Social Security numbers or TAX ID numbers) but it was not the case. The “Price of Silence” executive producers made a mistake in the number of paid crew members there would be for the shows. The SGA agreed to a certain amount of paid crew members, but during the actual show there were more.”
Abbondanza continued, “As it’s against the SGA to allocate money without approval of the body, we were unable to pay the extra crew members. As one can expect, this caused rumors about the SGA losing these contracts, while we never had them in the first place. Gladly, however, no important documents were lost and everyone’s personal information was kept safe with an elected SGA Board and the Office of Campus Life.”
Jeremias also said that SGA members volunteered to “cash their stipends” early to put towards the production and were not reimbursed because of the missing receipts.
“I really appreciate those who did something to help out the show, I felt sorry they had to do that,” said Jeremias.
Jeremias also accused Abbondanza of losing the receipts used as proof of purchase for the costumes and the fabric. “The costume designer was supposed to meet him [Abbondanza] several times and he never showed up.” Jeremias said, “One day he was supposed to take them [a few crew members] downtown to buy costumes and props; they showed up at eight in the morning, and he never showed up.”
Abbondanza stated otherwise., “The tasks of getting costumes were spread amongst a few people. The director, Jason Jeremias, asked me to purchase some pants for one of the protagonists, but I was unable to because of my school and work duties. Jason and I conversed about this. He was fortunately able to buy the costume online. I was responsible for getting some of the props, though, and that went well.”
After getting the clothes and fabric, Jeremias said that the costume designer gave the receipts to Abbondanza. Abbondanza claims that most of the receipts he received were not in good conditions. The receipts that were handed in were either torn, faded, crumbled or ineligible. As a result, they did not serve as proof of purchase for the college.
After the tabling of the first budget proposal, Jeremias, along with supporters Cyrille Njikeng and Scott Davis, spoke to students around the campus asking them to sign the petition asking SGA to fund the show.
Davis, who is a senator in the Student Legislative Assembly, said that some of his fellow senators did not approved of his involvement. “I haven’t spoken to any members of the senate regarding this, because when I did speak out on behalf of students I was told that I should go tell my friends that if they have a problem, [to] just sort it out,” said Davis. “Now, I’m going to take matters into my own hands and help the people who expect us to help.”
Jeremias, Njikeng, and Davis received up to 600 signatures against the tabling of “Price of Silence.” Some students wrote comments on the petition such as, “This is ridiculous!”
Although “Price of Silence” will now be funded some supporters still have concerns with the SGA job performance.
Njikeng, who plans to become the future SGA president, said, “People have to be aware that something is wrong on campus and what is wrong is SGA isn’t doing their job the way they’re suppose to do it.”