SCOPE members forced out of org
Without staff, control of budget, future unknown
Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
The well-known student organization, the Student Committee on Popular Entertainment (SCOPE), is undergoing a dramatic transformation due to the fact that all of SCOPE’s members were recently dismissed. While SCOPE is still technically considered a student organization at the moment, there are no members. The Student Activities Fee Committee (SAFC) will now control the organization’s funds. It is unclear as to when SCOPE can once again act independently.
An incident that occurred in April of 2012 where two students stole public property in Portsmouth served as the catalyst for the final outcome. According to an Appeal Decision report from the UNH Office of Conduct and Mediation (OCM) from Sept. 20, the two new members stole signs while the group was out collecting menus from area restaurants to provide to visiting concert acts. The Portsmouth Police Department received an anonymous tip regarding the theft, and then alerted the UNH Police Department. The MUB was also informed of the incident, and SCOPE was taken through the disciplinary process by the OCM.
The incident was revisited in June and a hearing took place in early August; the judicial board’s sanction recommendations for SCOPE included probation until April 10, 2015, monthly meetings with an adviser until May 2015, and modifications to the organization’s constitution and hiring manual.
However, judicial officer Linda Johnson’s imposed sanctions included suspension until the Fall Semester of 2014, the revision and updating of manuals, the creation of an advisory board to oversee the organization, and probation for two years upon reinstatement as a campus organization. SCOPE filed an appeal, which was denied, but it was “granted sanction modification, in part,” as the suspension was deferred, provided that SCOPE follow all of the other rules outlined in Johnson’s imposed sanctions.
The advisory board consisted of Coordinator of Leadership and Student Organization Services Nate Hastings, Student SAFC Chairman Bryan Merrill, Student Senate Speaker Lauren Scarlett, Health Services’ Director of Education and Promotion Kathleen Grace Bishop and Director of Campus Recreation Stacy Hall.
Merrill commented during the student senate meeting on Sunday that the advisory board was essentially an “executioner.” On Monday, Merrill clarified the comment, admitting that he phrased it in a harsh way.
“We were given a very clear task, and there wasn’t really any other interpretation,” Merrill said.
That task, according to Merrill, was to review the organization’s membership, see who knew or should have known about the theft that occurred in April, and revoke the membership of those students who were aware.
“We (the advisory board) did not derive any pleasure from cutting positions or revoking memberships, and it wasn’t any form of judicial activism,” Merrill said. “We were given a task and we accomplished it exactly as it was given to us.”
Assistant Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs Dr. Kevin Charles said, “There was no predetermination. The process that was followed was governed by the Student Code of Conduct and overseen by Office of Conduct and Mediation (OCM). It is the same code and process that other student organizations and students are bound by.”
Currently, Merrill and Student Activity Fee Chief Financial Officer Justin Ykema are entrusted with SCOPE’s budget.
Merrill said that he has been in contact with the Whittemore Center, and is “working on making sure that students get the concert experience that they have come to expect.”
“Obviously, with the dissolution of SCOPE, there is a large void to be filled,” Merrill said.
He added that he and Ykema, as well as the other members of SAFC, will put the money toward what it was originally intended to be used for.
Although nothing is yet set in stone, Merrill plans to pursue a concert contingency fund to continue concert service. In addition, the advisory board will strive to rebuild membership, which will operate on a more open basis next semester.
According to Merrill, SCOPE’s budget will most likely be cut after SAFC reviews the organization’s concept and budget, meaning that SCOPE’s student organization status might be lessened to that of an Organization Resource Officer (ORO) Organization. SCOPE’s budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year is $162,400.
“The probability of SCOPE’s budget continuing to be what it is miniscule. It would be unfair and unwise to give the same budget to novice members,” Merrill said.
In addition, Merrill stated that, because the concerts are not going to be run by students until the new members are able to operate independently, Student Activity Fee money will be used to pay the Whittemore Center.