Email Scandals, Money

NYU Law: SBA President v. Treasurer v. Decorum v. Things Law Students Care About

In case I haven’t said this already, welcome back, law students. When you guys are gone over the summer, we have to report on real scandals and real issues.

But now that you guys are back on campus, it’s time to fire up the “dumb law student story” machine.

NYU Law, you’re up first….

As NYU Law students returned from their summer break, NYU’s Student Bar Association leadership was busy battling over email. The president was talking smack about the treasurer, and the treasurer was firing right back at the president.

But what our two main characters don’t know is that the rest of the student body was talking smack about both of them.

Let’s go to the emails. But first a note for any new 1Ls joining us. We have an informal practice of generally not “outing” law students identified only on school-wide emails. If the student’s name is otherwise available in public records, if other media outlets have already named the student, if the student tells us it’s okay to name them, or if we otherwise deem it appropriate, then it’s fair game. Of course, we can’t help it if our readers know how to use Google, but we ask that you respect our naming convention when discussing in the comments.

With that in mind, here’s the initial email from the NYU Law SBA President. We’ll call him Party Law:

NYU Law 2L’s and 3L’s,

It is my unfortunate duty as your Student Bar Association President to be the bearer of some bad news. As of Monday, August 29, 2011, [Leave Me Out Of This] (Vice-President) and I became fully aware of some issues regarding the student budget for the upcoming year. These issues dealt directly with concerns the SBA Executive Board had been voicing all summer, and unfortunately what we learned was not pleasant. Specifically, we learned that the reconciliations due in the spring for the prior year had not been submitted to the school, that the current academic year budget had not been submitted, that funds had not been deposited in the SBA account, and that no student group budgets had been reviewed or approved. Later, we met with the elected Treasuer to discuss these issues. The following day, the elected Treasurer informed us that she did not think that it would be beneficial to her or to any student group for her to continue as Treasurer, and she then tendered her resignation in the early evening, mere hours before the start of classes.

I know that this news will be unwelcome, and that it may instill a bit of panic and worry regarding the status of NYU Law’s student group budgets, social events, and other SBA-related activities, so I wanted to personally let each of you know that I have put a contingency plan in motion to deal with this issue. I give you my word that the SBA will act quickly and decisively in taking care of all the problems this creates and that we will proceed with all haste in handling these issues. Although this resignation occured the day before classes started, we will not let it hinder any activities for any student groups.

During the last 24 hours, I have met with the Finance Office, Student Affairs, and various other administrative officials, as well as our bank, members of the SBA Finance Committee, and members of the SBA Board of Governors. I am happy to say that our account is now up to date, funds have been deposited in our account, signatories have been added, and that we can look forward to a great year moving forward. In light of the surprising departure of the Treasurer, I have appointed two members of the Finance Committee to serve as interim Co-Treasurers, and they will be leading the Finance Committee in a thorough review of all student budgets, with the expectation that funds will be disbursed next week. The SBA will also be holding an emergency meeting within the next 24 hours in order to deal with this matter. Please bear in mind that although we are all working around the clock to accomplish several months of work in a matter of days, we remain confident that we will have the full amount of funds available for all student groups quickly (within 7 days). There will be elections for a new Treasurer in the fall, and there will also be an amendment to vote on that will be very important for you to approve, making a change to the Constitution in order to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.

Dear Party Law, nobody cares why something like the SBA screwed up, they just care that it works.

Well, I suppose that’s not true. There was one NYU Law student who cared about this letter from President Party Law. That would be the (former) SBA Treasurer whom we’ll call Cashing Out:

Fellow 2L’s,

In an attempt to clear my name and preemptively reply to an upcoming Commentator article, I have written a statement. It seems long but it is worth the read. I’m sure you will get some kind of response from Party Law, but believe me, I have no intention of engaging in a he said/she said back and forth. I just wanted to say my piece and be done.

My Statement:

I understand that Party Law wants to inform the student body about the goings on in the SBA for transparency sake. But in actuality his past email regarding my resignation provided a murky view at best. There are many issues in how he presented what had occurred. As far as becoming aware of any issues on August 29th, I want to be clear that Party Law knew about all of the issues all summer and was in no way caught off guard by my resignation.

Party Law stands by his email and I stand by the fact that I completed all of my necessary duties up to the time I resigned. I turned in the SBA reconciliation, gathered expense reports, and budget requests. There were no stated deadlines communicated to me through SBA Treasurer transition meetings with the previous treasurer, [I Needed Help On My Resume], nor meetings with NYU Law’s Director of Financial Management, [I Like Being the Bank in Monopoly], that I did not meet. After my resignation I offered up the whole of the information that the new treasurers would need to set the budgets, however they did not attempt to retrieve those.

The truth of the matter is that this summer there were communication problems between everyone involved. There were missed emails and unanswered questions by all parties involved. I am aware that some student groups made complaints to the SBA. Though Party Law wants to make things seem as though the entire fault lies with me, that is simply not the case. For someone who values accountability, it is time that Party Law takes some as well.

My resignation rested on my determination that I could not do a proper job as treasurer with Party Law as the SBA President. I could not go through my 2L year being subject to his unprofessional statements, tone, and questionable behavior. His micromanagement over the summer made it very clear to me that he wanted control of SBA funds. He wanted to control how the budget was set. He suggested putting a personal fund for his own use aside before we even set the budgets for the student groups. I thought it odd that he would want to set aside even more money for parties when student groups had great events for which they were relying on SBA to provide funding.

I then realized that over the past school year, over $25,000 of SBA funding was paid personally to Party Law as “reimbursements” for parties thrown throughout the year. Some of these were not even substantiated with receipts from the vendors. I then realized that many of the party locations for parties coordinated by Party Law were also locations he used for his party planning business. This, as well as Party Law urging that the SBA spend on parties, over $7,000 of the previous year’s unaccounted for SBA funds, made me very suspicious about what my job for the SBA really was. I thought I was going to be helping student groups by providing funding for their activities. It turned out that I was really working as Party Law’s personal banker for access to SBA funds. I simply could not be a part of his possible misappropriation of those funds, and mishandling of his position as SBA President to do so.

Thanks for your time,

Cashing Out

NYU Law students, have you learned nothing from Mr. Chuck? Maybe you guys need to not have outside party planning businesses. Maybe, just maybe, you guys should focus on being law students during a very challenging legal economy?

In any event, this is about the time when NYU Law students started emailing Above the Law, begging us to make this stop. Said one student “Elie, can you email these people threatening to out them. I think that’s the only way they’ll shut up.”

Another NYU student said: “[Party Law] thinks he is cool. He didn’t get the memo that cool people don’t run for SBA president.”

Cool people also don’t respond to this kind of ridiculousness with still more emails. But Party Law just couldn’t resist hitting “send” one more time:

Hi everyone.

Cashing Out is obviously upset over the Commentator article coming out, and I’m not going to dignify any of this with a response beyond as follows:

Note: Usually, when people say “I’m not going to dignify any of this with a response,” they, like, don’t respond. By responding, you are, in fact, dignifying all of these allegations. HTH.

Every receipt for every activity is available, submitted properly, and all money is accounted for. The Finance Office has everything for review, and the previous years’ treasurers and the interim Treasurers have reviewed all group reports, receipts, SBA reports, etc. There is absolutely no money unaccounted for. Like every student group, reimbursements occur after events and require receipts, an accounting of how the money was spent, and are audited each and every year by the SBA, the Finance Office, and outside auditors. Any money ever paid to a student is directly in relation to money spent directly on the student events.

All money that was spent last year was voted on and fully approved by the SBA. There is no missing money – again, all receipts have been turned in and no money is unaccounted for.

In addition, the set aside money, which has always been set aside, is for an Emergency SBA budget – this is used to handle the rollover period for any student groups with need over the summer or prior to the Fall disbursement, or additional one-off events that may occur (incentive funding) – this has always been part of the yearly budget. It is not a “personal account”, nor is there any such account, nor will there ever be such an account.

I really do not have much to say beyond the fact that the prior email was full of blatant falsehoods, misrepresentations, and lies, and I will deal with it through the appropriate channels. I am not going to engage in a back and forth, as it serves no purpose other than to damage our school’s reputation. However, I did want to respond in regards to the fiscal responsibilities, and to encourage anyone who has any worries to feel free to review the records or meet with the interim Treasurers.

As always, anyone who has any questions is more than welcome to speak with me, any member of the SBA, the Finance Office, Student Affairs, or any other administrator. Thanks to all of you sent me a copy of the email and voiced your support. Cashing Out is right about one thing – I believe in transparency and accountability, which is why I firmly stand behind everything that I have said previously, deny these allegations, and am happy to share any and all information with anyone who wishes it, as always.

Regards,
Party Law

Dear Lord, I think this tipster has the final word on these two students:

these two are well-known for passive aggressive outbursts and (on Party Law’s part) an ever-present need to control SBA elections and members, as well as appear to be the ‘coolest person ever’ by organizing ‘awesome parties’ for student’s birthdays (allegedly using school funds) at the worst clubs in the greater Washington Square area. Additionally, he ‘founded’ a party planning business and capitalized on NYU’s weekly SBA parties to get his name out to bars, etc. I am not sure if it is ethical (maybe he was receiving commissions from bars during his time as social chair?) but I would like to know more.

Cashing Out has practice yelling at people for money, it’s a mystery as to why her treasury tenure fell apart.

NYU Law Faculty, PLEASE start assigning more reading so these student “leaders” have something better to do.

Earlier: NYU 3L Takes Unemployment Plight to YouTube

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