Saturday, October 5, 2013

Discrimination at CSUSM via the Accounting Society?

"Discrimination by the Accounting Society?"

It took very little inner deliberation to write what I am about to write. I have been attending California State University – San Marcos for almost over four years now and I am two classes (Spanish 102 and 201) away from my BA in Political Science.

I was very excited for the Fall 2013 semester to start because there is nothing I love more than interacting with my fellow classmates and having stimulating and intellectual conversations. Also, I was looking forward to signing up for the Accounting Society because a few semesters back I came across the Accounting Society serving lunch to dozens of people two days a week. One day I inquired with someone handing out the food what exactly the society entailed and how a student such as myself could join and get a slice of pizza two days a week. I was informed that all that was required was a $30.00 membership fee and to fill out the application for the society. That was when I planned to join once Fall 2013 started so I could save a little money each week and be able to eat.

The Fall 2013 semester began and I immediately went to where the Accounting Society’s office is on campus and acquired a membership form, wrote my $30.00 check and turned it all in to a very nice woman who runs the office. Before signing the form and handing over my check I informed her of my living situation in that for the past three years since my divorce I have been living out of my car, working two jobs (one being on campus) and attempting to finish my BA in Political Science. She was very sympathetic and understanding informing me that the Accounting Society was just what I needed to get a lunch twice a week for just paying the $30.00 membership fee. There were no stipulations or requirements on the contract, that I can recall, nor did the woman who ran the office notify me of any such stipulations or guidelines.

Today is October 5, 2013 and ever since the Fall 2013 semester started I have been going to Markstein Hall every Tuesday and Thursday to get my free lunch. Most days it’s a slice of pizza and a soda or bottled water. One day it was a cup of soup and bottled water.

On October 4, 2013 I received an email from Aaron Campos, the President of the Accounting Society. Apparently for the past month, every Tuesday and Thursday when I go to where the Accounting Society is serving food and I am required to sign their sign in sheet, I was supposedly not yet a member of their society. Yet, every Tuesday and Thursday for a month I have signed their sign in sheet and picked up food to eat lunch. A 1$ slice of pizza most days and a bottled water.

Aaron Campos informed me that for a month they have been sitting on my check and having faculty and board meetings over me and my “plight” as he phrases it in his first email. Aaron then goes on to say that I have not been attending the meetings that are required to receive the lunch. Aaron also informs me that these are new guidelines for the Accounting Society and in his own words, “we do not have 100% compliance in practice.” I attempted to inform Aaron and his associates in my third email to them that I work on campus as a student assistant during their meetings and I only have time to come and get the food and return to work. This information did not seem to matter.

In addition, Aaron writes in his first email, “However, if you do not have enough interest in the topics and presenters coming to the Accounting Society, then I feel that your money could be put to better use elsewhere.”

When I joined the Accounting Society it was clear to those that received my membership form and application that I was living out of my car and that this would be the best use of my money so I could eat lunch on two days out of the week versus not being able to afford lunch period.

Aaron writes that the reason they did not cash my check a month ago was because it costs them extra money to do refunds.

Now for the question of all questions:

Was anyone else singled out and their checks not cashed? Why did I, out of all the new members, warrant a committee, board and faculty meetings to decide my membership?

From the get-go the Accounting Society knew of my living situation and from the get-go, they did not cash my check. For four weeks I signed their sign-in sheet and I ate the food they provided and suddenly a month later I have now been “kicked out” of the Accounting Society.

If I was removed from the Accounting Society because of not attending meetings are they removing other current members for not attending meetings? Do they create a list at the beginning of the year when people are signing up to be members, a sort of “Do not Feed” or a “Red Flag” list similar to a “No Fly Listing” via airports?

I have never felt so discriminated against in all my life and I find what has occurred to me completely unjust, unfair and unacceptable. How many other people have been kicked out of the Accounting Society for their living situation because that is what this is truly all about otherwise they would have treated me like every other current member and cashed my check immediately because truly, “Why not cash my check?” Why wait a month to decide to remove me from the Accounting Society with no notice to me during that month in addition to the fact that the Accounting Society allowed me to consume food two times a week for a month. The only difference in me and other members, is most likely the fact that I am living out of my car. Perhaps my honesty when filling out my membership form and check is now the bane of my existence, and if that is the case it is a sad day when honesty is rewarded with a denial of food. Food only worth a few dollars if I might add.

I have been informed by the Chair of the Accounting department, Dr. Alan Styles that it was his final decision and all further correspondence should go to him. Perhaps if you feel this is unjust, unfair and outright discrimination then maybe people should correspond with him because I would hate for this to happen to another starving student.

I have created a Blog and posted the series of events in addition to ALL email correspondence so people can fully evaluate the situation without bias and lack of facts.

Yet another mark against California State University – San Marcos, and it isn’t a good mark.


Jeff Meints


UPDATE - 10/28/2013

Two weeks ago a meeting was set up between Greg Toya, Shannon Nolan, Jenni Goldman, Robert Aiello-Hauser and myself regarding the above situation. The meeting was supposed to be about possible solutions for the incident and relating to my living situation. Robert Hauser was there to represent me and I by the end of the meeting I could tell Jenni Goldman was also there to legitimately support me.

However, the meeting did not start off relating to my living situation and resources that could be provided but instead Shannon Nolan and Greg Toya, which were the obvious legal minds in the room, immediately jumped upon me rejoining the Accounting Society. They both acknowledged a mistake was made and the Accounting Society had no right to remove me from their society, and they informed me that they had my $30.00 check with them and application, and if I wanted to right then and now, I could rejoin the society. I told them I would think about it. They didn't seem to like that response and my response/decision was then deadlines for the following Thursday.

The meeting then proceeded as it should have proceeded from the beginning and discussion was opened to the possible resources on campus for me, the possibility of parking on campus so to save me gas and the removal of fearing police impounds and overall, I felt Jenni and Robert actually cared about my situation and helping me.

A week later Thursday came and I needed to inform Shannon on if I wanted to rejoin or not. The only problem was is that I felt rejoining the society would not rectify the weeks since removal from the society that I have not received their food. So I decided to propose a solution that would rectify all of this in my mind and ensure that this would never happen again to another student / human being.

I proposed through an email to Shannon Nolan that before I can decide to rejoin the Accounting Society I think it would be fair that Dr. Alan Styles and the President of the Accounting Society, Aaron Campos, made a public apology to me in one of those meetings that they so direly wanted me to attend. I also gave an alternative option which would be a written apology from both parties.

However, I have just been informed that those two options most likely will not work and Shannon Nolan attempted to persuade me that only Dr. Alan Styles was responsible, despite the obvious fact that Aaron Campos was clearly involved and was the person who began correspondence with me regarding all of this. Shannon Nolan proposed the only other option is to have a sit down with Dr. Alan Styles and express the impact this has had on me, so he understands. I have decided that this is unacceptable. I am unsure of what to do next and for now, this is what it is.... for now. I pray some form of justice will be served but at the moment it appears that this might be another, "Sweep it under the rug" moment.


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