A.S. leaves African Student Organization’s funding for cultural event off agenda

Adria Brodie

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President of the African Student Organization (ASO) Abel Wondowsen, 21, global supply chain management major, shows his discontent toward A.S. about his request for funding not being on this week’s agenda. Photo Credit: Misael Virgen / Assistant Photo Editor

Members of the African Student Organization (ASO) were stunned Tuesday when they appeared before A.S. to request an increase in their financial recommendation, only to find out their request was not on the agenda.

ASO President Abel Wondowsen, 21, said he was shocked to hear from A.S. President Conor Lansdale that their request was not included in this week’s agenda during the open forum.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Wondowsen, global supply chair management major. “We were told by the finance committee it was going to be on this week’s agenda.”

Wondowsen said the finance committee reduced their initial request from $8,000 to $5,100, due to budget issues. He said ASO has one of the biggest events at CSUN, the African Culture Show, which takes place in the USU every November during a week-long celebration of African culture.

“We have one of the biggest events here,” Wondowsen said. “How can you not have it on the agenda?”

Lansdale gave an apology to the ASO members and said he took full responsibility for the request not being on the agenda, and said it would be on next week’s agenda.

“I’m sorry that was on my part,” Lansdale said. “We will do everything in our power to get you what you need.”

However, during his report, Vahan Khodanian, A.S. director of finance, said this error was on the part of the finance committee. He said the minutes from the special agenda last week did not get forwarded to the secretary to be included in this week’s agenda, either.

“It’s a big error on my part,” Khodanian said. “When I reviewed the minutes from the finance committee meeting, it slipped my mind to get the finance committee’s recommendations that were made during the special meeting last week.”

Khodanian said ASO’s request was placed on a special agenda last week. He said ASO pleaded with the finance committee to allow their request to make the agenda because the senator who helped ASO with their request took too long to sign it.

“According to our constitution, financial recommendations have to be placed on the agenda 72 hours before any meetings,” Khodanian said. “Because of the urgency of the event and some questioning as to why it was late, we put it on a special agenda last week.”

ASO Vice President Amara Udeh, 29, said they have postponed their African Cultural Show twice this year because of a lack of funding.

“I feel that it was a slap in the face,” said Udeh, environmental and occupational health major.  “We were expecting to go over the allocation, not to hear that ‘your request is not on the agenda.’ I question…are they trying to move us out as a club?”

Udeh said the funding request was to support their annual event of celebrating the African culture by providing speakers, African dance groups, and a fashion show displaying African attire.

She said ASO might have to postpone its event again, which was already rescheduled from the week of Nov. 5 to the week of  Nov. 15 and possibly moving to the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, when fewer students are around campus.

“It’s going to screw us over because Thanksgiving is coming up and we may lose attendees,” Udeh said.

ASO Treasurer Daniel Wegeshe, 18, said their request was urgent because they have to prepay speakers, along with other participants in the event.

“I have nothing more to say,” said Wegeshe, biology major. “I’m just upset.”

Khodanian added ASO had the right to be upset.

“We will speed up the expenditure request for ASO to get their money on Tuesday,” Khodanian said. “When clubs get funding…it’s available no sooner than the Monday of the following week.”

Khodanian said ASO is not a chartered organization because they did not attend the Annual Recognition Conference that recognizes clubs and organizations on campus. He added they did the first part of the process by completing the URD (University Recognition Documents) forms, but would have to attend a make up session at the end of the month.

“The financial recommendation on the agenda would have included pending confirmation of a charter,” Khodanian said.

Although ASO members left the Senate meeting after the open forum, Khodanian said he would follow up with them personally to make sure this issue was resolved.