Miski Abdi, left, Irela Cota, center, and Diego Bethea speak with City Time’s  Irie Caraballo while manning the ASG table at San Diego City City College’s Club Rush, March 14, 2024. Photo by Tresean Osgood/City Times Media
Miski Abdi, left, Irela Cota, center, and Diego Bethea speak with City Time’s Irie Caraballo while manning the ASG table at San Diego City City College’s Club Rush, March 14, 2024. Photo by Tresean Osgood/City Times Media
Tresean Osgood

Student organizations at City College struggled to access reimbursements for over a year

An overly complicated process and miscommunication between ASG, accounting led to long waits

After almost a year of meetings and emails, M.E.Ch.A. was out of ideas. 

The student club had been working since April 2023 to be reimbursed by San Diego City College for a bonfire for members held with other chapters from around Southern California.

They had gone through the following process: submit a form known as an Agenda Item Request to Associated Student Government through the Inter-Club Council, then present the request at an ASG meeting. ASG voted and M.E.Ch.A.’s request was approved, according to Vanessa Velez, the club’s ICC representative.

Then they waited.

“And then for the next four or five weeks, they did no action,” Velez said. “So we went into the summer.”

Reporting by City Times found that M.E.Ch.A is one of several clubs that had issues accessing the funds allocated by City College as part of the ASG budget to reimburse student organizations for their events and activities.

In the fall, M.E.Ch.A continued to push for their reimbursement, to no avail. They also filled out a second request, which was rejected by ASG, which did not approve a single request all semester, according to Velez.

Nearly a year later, ASG and campus administration have finally taken steps to remedy the issue.

Knights 4 Change president Montse Vaquera, left, and treasurer Luis Herrera, right, tend to their club’s table at San Diego City College’s Club Rush, March 14, 2024. Knights 4 Change takes students downtown to help unhoused persons. Photo by Marco Guajardo/City Times Media

Much of the trouble can be attributed to the sudden departure of ASG’s faculty advisor Lori Oldham, according to ASG President Diego Bethea.

“This person was really the foundation of ASG,” Bethea said. “(Oldham) knew everything about how to go about different things, processes and really how to teach us everything.”

Oldham was a regular at ICC meetings and she kept the process running smoothly, according to several club leaders. 

She would provide updates on how much money was available and where each of their requests was in the process.

In her absence, communication broke down.

Some clubs had trouble figuring out how to correctly submit the required forms. In M.E.Ch.A.’s case, ASG did not take down minutes correctly, leading to the request being rejected by accounting.

According to Velez, no one communicated this to M.E.Ch.A. when they took matters into their own hands. Members set up meetings with City’s student affairs and accounting departments. 

Instead, administrators and accounting told them to take their issues back to ASG.

“(Regie Balintec from accounting)’s like, ‘Why isn’t ASG teaching you this? This isn’t really my job to teach you this.’ So it’s like, a lot of pointing fingers between ASG and accounting,” according to M.E.Ch.A. member Nicole, who declined to give her last name for privacy reasons.

All the confusion has led to other clubs forgoing school funding entirely.

Visionary Feminists and Knights for Change members said they have been self-funding their activities because they were discouraged by the request process.

Umoja was forced to postpone an event, according to Hodhan Hassan, the club’s vice president.

Psi Beta, a psychology club, requested advanced funding to attend a conference in the Spring of 2023. Their request was approved, but they were not given the funds until after the event, forcing students to foot the bill themselves, according to the club’s fundraiser and former ICC representative, Nick Lazaris.

A Psi Beta member makes a sign for the San Diego City College’s Club Rush, March 14, 2024. Photo by Nadia Lavin/City Times Media

In the last month, there have finally been some breakthroughs.

At the ASG meeting on March 20, Dean of Student Affairs and current ASG advisor, Adan Sanchez said that members of ASG had met with Vice President John Parker and accounting to discuss the issue and were preparing the flier that would help students navigate the application. Sanchez said they are planning the student leadership summit for next fall.

Speaking at the meeting, City College President Ricky Shabazz said he initiated a process that involves working with the Academic Senate that would make this training mandatory for club advisors. Shabazz acknowledged that the lack of an advisor had led to issues and that accounting was overly strict when it came to requests from students.

“We made some mistakes and we need to own up to it in this transition of new people and new positions,” Shabazz said.

Oldham declined to comment on this story. Sanchez did not respond to several requests for comment.

Balintec did not respond to an interview request but said in an email, “The ASG leadership and I had a successful meeting on Monday, March 18th, 2024. I am confident that we worked together to improve the process.”

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