Below are the email correspondence between Aaron Campos, the President of the California State University - San Marcos Accounting Society, in addition to the Chair of Accounting Department, Dr. Alan Styles.
I will post the full version of events in a separate forum posting on this Blog so not to clutter up this email posting.--------------------------------
Email #1 – September 5, 2013
To whom it may concern,
I've been a student at CSUSM for about four years now and a few semesters ago I came across your Accounting Society and how they serve food everyday to their members.
I've been living out of my car ever since my divorce, for 3 years, while working two jobs and going to school to finish my BA. Money is incredibly tight and somedays I don't get to eat but I have enough money to pay the $30 membership fees and I just hope there is still a chance for me to become a member this semester so I can eat each day.
Thank you for your patience with this email and I look forward to your response.
EMAIL #2 – October 4, 2013
Thank you for your interest in the Accounting Society. While your plight is one that makes it difficult for me to make any kind of decision towards your membership, I would like to clarify the purpose of the amenities for the members of the society.
The food that we offer to our members is provided because the timing of the meeting is in the middle of when most students spend time eating lunch. Because we are keeping members from their lunch, we offer them food so they are not late for the presentations given by the firms that have paid to come speak to them.
Over the course of the past semesters, we have worked to be more cost conscious and responsible with the membership dues that are paid each semester. There have been accounting major members of the society that took their share of the lunch and did not attend the speaker’s presentation. This is not aligned with the purpose of the provided lunch.
As I was presented with your email and subsequent application to the Accounting Society, I was met with this difficult situation. I have both turned away paying members who are Accounting Students that have no intention of attending the speaker’s presentation, and (more often) encouraged the paying members to attend the meeting. This new level of cost conscious behavior is something the entire Accounting Society is now aware of, and while we do not have 100% compliance in practice, it is something for which we strive.
I apologize that it has taken me so long to get back to you about this, but there was quite a bit of discussion that was held between me and my board members and faculty advisor. I have not yet deposited the check you paid with your application, which is why your name has not appeared on our member sign in sheet at the meetings. I would ask that, should you wish to continue to take part in the amenities provided to our members, that you also attend our meetings. I understand that you are not an Accounting Major and you may have no interest in accounting, but membership to our society is open to all majors. I can make the point all day that accounting is knowledge every profession should have, and you can benefit from what our speakers have to say. 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. This keeps the membership and benefits process fair for all of our members.
I look forward to hearing back from you. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Regards and Best Wishes,
President – Fall 2013
CSUSM Accounting Society
Email #3 – October 4, 2013
First off thank you for your email. Secondly i am a little offended that you are revoking my membership and my free lunch I pay for because I do not attend your meetings. I did not read anywhere on the membership form that I was required to attend the meetings in order to recieve lunch in addition I am working on campus during those hours. I work two jobs in addition to going to school Monday through Thursday from 3 PM until 8 PM some days.
I must ask why exactly did you not cash the check I gave it to you over a month ago. Because of bad time I am sure you were not aware that I was not attending the meetings so I have to assume that you didn't cash it because of the fact I was homeless.
To be honest, This kind of feels like discrimination… I suggest you cash my check and kindly allow me to continue receiving the lunch that I paid for over a month ago.
I am sure you understand my position and I am sure it should not be a problem accommodating me. Thank you for your time and patience with this email.
Email #4 – October 4, 2013
I would like to begin by simply stating that the fact that you were or are homeless has had no bearing on the board’s decisions. I did not cash your check because it is very difficult and time consuming to issue a refund through the student organization banking structure. The society does not have a regular bank like Wells Fargo or Chase. We must have releases for funds processed through Associated Students Incorporated, who acts as the steward to the society’s funds. It was merely a practical decision because you are not an Accounting Major and historically, we have had non-accounting majors request refunds because they were not as interested in the material presented as they had originally planned.
I would also like to add that I was not revoking your membership. I explained in my email that I was simply holding all of our members equally and to the same standard the Board had established. During this time of discussion, even though the Society had not deposited your check, we have allowed you to take part in the equal share of lunches so far.
In any case, the Department of Accounting’s Chair, Dr. Alan Styles has overruled me in this matter. I’ve been asked to return your check to you at your earliest convenience. Please let me know when you are available for me to return this to you while you are on campus.
Regards and Best Wishes,
President – Fall 2013
CSUSM Accounting Society
Email #5 – October 4, 2013
Fascinating… You didn't cash my check for over a month because it would cost you too much to refund me. So, from the very first moment I gave the Accounting Society my check knew of my living situation and then suddenly my check is not cashed. For a month I take your food and you set the precedent that I am a part of your society and the check has been cashed yet it has not with no word to me the whole time.
Did you wait to cash every other members check? Did you have some sort of list of new members that were flagged for possibly requiring a refund? The fact of the matter is, A) i was singled out and B) legally speaking I signed a contract with you and gave you a check and for a month you complied to that contract by allowing me to consume your food. Suddenly you're now revoking my membership over guidelines that are were not stated in the contract signed as far as i recall. There was never a verbal notice to me by the people running your office that attending the meetings was mandatory either or no lunch or membership upon handing over of the check.
There's no other way to look at this other than discrimination due to me being homeless. If this were not the case, I would have been treated like every other new member by you cashing my check and not thinking a second thought. Instead, you knew from the moment I became a member by handing you that legally signed contract and my check that I was homeless hence why you did not cash the check for a month and an issue arose over this matter.
This is not the end of this matter and I will go to the appropriate sources in order to rectify the situation appropriately. This is unexceptionable, this is unjust and unfair.
You have just denied a homeless person who is a student at your campus, and who works on campus as a student assistant with fellow PhD professors 20 hours a week and who has a second job outside of school landscaping a one dollar slice of pizza and a drink every Tuesday and Thursday.
Big grats to your Accounting Society.
EMAIL #6 – October 4, 2013
Aaron Campos, President of the Accounting Society and the faculty advisor for the Accounting Society, Dr. Kohlmeyer, have informed me of your situation and shared with me your email communications. As the Chair of the Department of Accounting I made the final decision. All future communication on this matter should come to me directly and not Aaron or Dr. Kohlmeyer.
If you wish to discuss the matter further with me feel free to do so in an appropriate and respectful manner. If you wish to discuss the matter with an individual outside the Department of Accounting I suggest you contact Shannon Nolan in Student Life & Leadership (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alan K. Styles, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Accounting
Chair, Department of Accounting
College of Business Administration
California State University San Marcos
San Marcos, CA 92096