Updated: March 25, 2022 at 6:38 p.m.
The undergraduate council’s tax audit “has so far found no evidence of any financial irregularities,” according to an initial report of its findings released on Thursday by Undergraduate Council Chairman Michael Wei Cheng ’22 and Vice President Emmet E. Published by De Cantor ’24.
The audit, which began in January and was conducted by Harvard’s risk management and audit services, has denied some allegations of financial mismanagement that have plagued the council since last November’s particularly controversial presidential election. It also recommends changes in style for the body.
The council unanimously voted to “fully co-operate” in the investigation last December. The investigation was expected to be completed by the end of February, but was extended several times “in part due to refusal to answer questions,” Cheng wrote in his email.
The director of the Student Office, which distributes funding to UC, withheld more than $ 125,000 from the body in response to the audit.
In his Thursday email, Cheng repeatedly stressed that the audit found “widespread financial mismanagement at UC,” and that some other serious findings were withheld from the report due to concerns about opinion.
“Some of the findings of the investigation will not be made public because they could significantly damage Harvard’s reputation, provided the UC enrollment represents Harvard’s student body,” Cheng wrote in an email.
Student Involvement and Leadership Assistant Kate Collier, who previously served as a mediator for UC, had a different assessment of the report.
In an email to Crimson, Collier stressed that the report represents the full scope of the investigation.
“I am glad that UC recognizes the need for self-accountability in managing student money by requesting audits.” Collier wrote. “I have verified with the audit services that all their findings are included in the report and no financial irregularities have been found.”
Cheng later clarified his remarks in an interview.
“I don’t think finding evidence yet does mean that UC has been completely cleared.” Cheng said. “Looking closely at the legal context, yes, there are no legal financial irregularities, but there is a definite financial mismanagement.”
The report concludes with benefits on six of the 12 financial charges against the body.
In one finding, investigators found that a student organization received ډالرو 2,190 in funding to buy Patagonia sweaters for the open Harvard College in November 2020. The report noted that clothing “does not comply” with aid standards.
Donations should be paid to initiatives that are “socially inclusive and financially accessible”, including racial, cultural, mental health, and prevention of harassment, according to the UC website.
The report also states that UC’s return to Snape, NH in the fall of 2021 exceeded the 3,000 3,000 allocated budget by nearly $ 4,000. The report also noted that there was no official budget for the trip.
The report assessed the legitimacy of a number of allegations made during last November’s UC officer election, including allegations against Ester J. Jiang ’23, a former Adams House representative, who was fined at least ، 20,000, XNUMX dollars by Quaid-19. He was accused of losing or stealing aid. Council
“We have not found any evidence that the money was distributed, used for other purposes, or otherwise misappropriated by presidential candidate Easter Jiang,” the report said.
Xiang and her rival partner, David Yu Zhang ’23, finished second in the election with six tickets.
In a written statement to Crimson on Thursday, Xiang described the ordeal that led to the incident and called on his friends to show compassion and kindness.
“These were harsh accusations, and their derogatory intent and destructive power were insignificant. They affected my relationships, people questioned my personality, and had a profound effect on my mental health and well-being.” Wrote. “I hope this audit clarifies to us, not only about my situation, but also about how UC, its campaigns, and all members of the Harvard community should be more accountable for their actions.” . “
Cheng noted the findings in his email.
“No one deserves to have their reputation tarnished by false and misleading accusations,” he wrote.
The report also cleared the Council of Tax Violations which was the focus of attacks by Ivory Coast Zimmermann 24 during his bid for UC president in the same election.
Zimmerman and his driving partner, Joey Yu Lane ’23, campaigned extensively on the grounds that UC had violated its constitution since 2008 by failing to file a nonprofit position, and that the existence of the body Don’t have
UC President Noah A. Harris ’22 then defended the council against the allegations, explaining that the council was automatically given a nonprofit status because of its position as a Harvard student organization. The UC then voted to remove the constitutional requirement.
The report cites Harris’s explanation.
“UC does not need to refund income tax because it is sponsored by the DSO and is eligible under the university’s tax-exempt status,” it reads.
Zimmerman responded to the findings with ease and a bit of humor.
“I don’t want to say I’m disappointed because it’s a good thing, but obviously, womp womp, started a campaign about it that it wasn’t true,” he said.
The report says that in two of the 12 allegations investigated, investigators were unable to obtain conclusions “based on a lack of financial records or disproportionate information”. The charges include “failing to collect and review ډالرو 100,000 in aid receipts and demand refunds of unspent funds in 2017 and 2018” and use of UC debit cards for meals and snacks.
Four other charges remain, including bias against major student organizations, conflicts of interest over winter aid, political aid by the council, and “misuse of aid funds by student organizations that are cultural and Focuses on racial initiatives. “
The report also offers a number of procedural recommendations to improve UC’s financial management practices, including a systematic review of UC debit card operations, thorough financial training for officers, and conflict of interest documentation procedures.
UC Treasurer Kimani E. Panthier ’24 expressed satisfaction with the audit findings and reiterated his commitment to improving UC’s financial management infrastructure.
“My reaction to the audit is that the audit confirms what I knew as a whole, that there was no financial irregularity,” Panter said. “I think these findings show that we can further enhance UC’s financial responsibility with the help of experts from independent auditing.”
The report says investigators are “working with UC officers to resolve the remaining allegations” and expects to “reach a conclusion in the next few days.”
– Staff author J. Sellers Hill at [email protected]