Cougars should call for university-wide audit


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To sustain a trustworthy university, CSUSM must limit faculty misconduct.

The payment of tuition and fees is the bane of many a student and the Cougars of CSUSM are no exception.


As a paying student myself, I understand and commiserate with the dismayed reactions of many students and administrators when news broke of CSUSM Extended Learning Dean Michael Schroder’s alleged extravagant spending of money that included such tuition and fees. Mr. Schroder is now on medical leave, according to an editorial published early last month by the San Diego Union-Tribune regarding the investigation into his accused actions. 


However, if the allegations are true, the question remains: Did the buck stop with him?


Has the campus sufficiently worked to sniff out any further possible cases of wasteful spending?


That finding remains to be seen but I believe it is our duty as students to call for action on this immediate issue. Despite the cost of it all, I call for future audits of the entire CSUSM system. 


How can such an audit be performed impartially? Similar to what I learned from searching through the original San Diego U-T report on Dean Schroder’s spending, one of the best tools to search through the spending and budget records of every administrator (and hopefully every sector of the school itself as well) is the California Public Records Act. 


The California Public Records Act allows regulatory agencies and the public at large to request copies of publically-accessible records and pertinent information included within them. Such records include those of the on-record spending of university administrators and that of the university as a whole.


In the San Diego U-T article mentioned above, the writer reported that one of the records of Dean Schroder’s expenses while in Washington, D.C. led investigators down a rabbit hole of contacting other named attendees of one of his upscale restaurant outings that totaled $798. This search was conducted in order to obtain another witness to possibly provide a reason as to why the expense list and the restaurant bill did not match in terms of the number of attendees (13 attendees on the expense list versus the five guests listed on the restaurant receipt). 


A note on the article and the whole process of records requesting: A simple Google search for how to submit a request turns up quite a few useless and uninformative results at the top of the search page, including writing an actual letter that must first go through more bureaucracy than necessary. It is not until you have a very specific Google search term entry (“California Public Records Act request form”) that a linked result for the California Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Public Records online request form appears and even then the link is the fifth result down from the top. 


Going through all of this reads and sounds tedious and I apologize if it bored you. If you got this far down the article, thank you for not giving up. I ran the details and nitty-gritty in this article because I want to emphasize that doing a proper investigation that is not an internal one (i.e. by a member of the public, rather than a regulatory agency or the CSU system itself) is not easy, especially without the prior knowledge I now hold and pass on to those of you reading this. 


But however it’s done, I want it to be thorough. I want it to be as impartial as possible. I want it to catch and resolve any wasteful spending if and as much as possible. I want the trust and money we place into the hands of our university here at CSUSM to not be taken for granted or advantage of. I want us students to go back to being able to trust the university wholeheartedly without the worry or suspicions brought on by the alleged actions of Dean Schroder. 


And I hope you want all of that, too.