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SCOPE members forced out of org

Without staff, control of budget, future unknown

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02


Susan Doucet/Staff

The placard next to the SCOPE office was removed recently after SCOPE’s 19-person staff had its memberships revoked.

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. 

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Cory Montreuil '10
Thu Nov 29 2012 15:52
That is a legitimate distinction, however, I would say that representation of the university trumps all. They all fly the UNH flag so sources of funding, while important, do not shield groups from scrutiny.
413 wnlany
Tue Nov 27 2012 18:13
There is an important distinction regarding Greeks vs. SAFO orgs. Greeks, I believe, are funded through dues, donations and fundraisers. SAFO orgs are all funded by the Student Activity Fee and their officers are paid stipends. Some orgs raise their own revenue (SCOPE through ticket sales, TNH through ads, etc.), but they all receive a piece of the pie. To me, that means that the officers and members of the orgs are held to a higher, different standard than the Greeks. If SCOPE was lacking, to borrow a phrase from the Penn State scandal, "institutional control" then I'm OK with the administration stepping in before it gets worse. From the side of the story we're getting in the comments it appears the university is throwing its weight, but I'd like to see the former SCOPE members and Dave Z. confronted over what really happened.

Athletes though, especially those on full ride scholarships, deserve the most scrutiny.

Cory Montreuil '10
Tue Nov 27 2012 15:01
I think they are being brought into to show a contrast in the ways that organizations made up of students are treated. I think UNH Athletics and Greek Life will be okay. I'm sure they are grateful for your protection though.
Thu Nov 22 2012 12:12
I don't know why fraternities are getting brought into this... I agree with everyone that this is ridiculous but don't make other organizations like Greek Life and UNH Athletics look bad at the expense of another group.
Wed Nov 21 2012 20:02
I second Christina. This is pathetic. SCOPE is THE best thing about the University of New Hampshire. If I had never been a part of it, I would have not had an education. We taught ourselves more about running an organization, dealing with the public, and teamwork than any bullshit class did.

I don't donate to the Alumni fund because, quite frankly, I feel that the University of New Hampshire robs its students blind. I feel that the corruption and politics that exist within the system are of far greater criminality than what is at the center of the org's disbandment. Dave Zamansky can go pound sand. Someone should investigate his personal hatred for SCOPE.

Former SCOPE Publicity Director (Class of 2006)

Wed Nov 21 2012 13:24
Unfortunately you only have to go back three short years to find a similar fate for the then second-oldest student organization at UNH, Freshman Camp:

Some striking commonalities between the two decisions:

1) Freshman Camp was initially suspended and put on probation in 2004 due to an off-campus party at the apartment of two counselors living above Wildcat Pizza that was deemed to be a "Freshman Camp" party (at the time, there were more than 50-60 counselors in the group).

2) A similar Advisory Board was established to oversee all conduct of Freshman Camp during the multi-year probationary period including a reduction in the number of counselors, oversight of all group activities/programming, as well as ongoing GPA and conduct reviews.

3) Dave Zamansky filed the initial charges against Freshman Camp in 2004. Ironically, he was serving as the Freshman Camp Faculty Advisor in 2009 when the group was ultimately disbarred from UNH.

It is sad to see that the powers that be at UNH once again decided to punish the broad organization and its dozens of members rather than dealing with the individuals involved in the appropriate manner. Let the dismissal of SCOPE (and Freshman Camp) serve as a reminder to student organizations that you are operating under a microscope.

I'm still waiting for the day that a member or two of the men's hockey team or football team gets into trouble and the incident is then attributed to the entire team. Maybe the entire team will be suspended for a season, or even eliminated? Something tells me I'll be waiting a long time.

Tue Nov 20 2012 22:12
The sad thing is the MUB staff is actually as shady and political as this article makes it out to be. It's a shame that an organization that has so much history that throws some of the most popular events on campus can get disintegrated over some stupid mistakes. Students' money is going down the tubes all because the MUB is blowing up the situation more than it needed to be. It takes drug raids and guns to shut down a fraternity, but only two kids making a dumb mistake that doesn't cause any harm to get an org shut down? Seems a little uneven.
Tue Nov 20 2012 19:09
@ Christina Iannuci, two wrongs don't make a right.
Tue Nov 20 2012 17:27
The university has no idea how much they have single-handedly changed UNH in the recent years! Seems unrecognizable since my graduation in '09.... makes me so sad every time I read hat yet another org has been demolished at the hand of Dave Zamanski....any one remember Freshman Camp?! Seemed like that was yet another guilty before proven guilty case. The university knows exactly what orgs it wants to suspend, and jumps to it any chance they get...even when it is blatantly unwarranted.
Tue Nov 20 2012 15:45
UNH has been trying to reduce student empowerment since at least 1992. Bring back MUSO! Long live the Pig!
Tue Nov 20 2012 15:15
So incredibly unfortunate for this to happen. This organization was probably the best one on campus, and it is in NO WAY comparable to a fraternity or sorority. Huge loss for UNH, and just very sad in general. My heart goes out to all members of SCOPE.
Tue Nov 20 2012 15:06
A typical underhanded Zamansky move.
Tue Nov 20 2012 14:12
Perhaps scope should have some more professional guidelines when it comes to recruiting new members, but these actions are ridiculous, lacking any sense of justice or professionalism. They can pat themselves on the back for stopping one of the largest sign stealing scandals of the century and removing these hooligans from the music industry.
Tue Nov 20 2012 14:04
If a fraternity can be shut down just because 1 person, I dont see why it should be any different if its an Org or not! Show all of you who talked down on fraternity! SCOPE is not any better!
2012 alum
Tue Nov 20 2012 13:49
If I get one more email from Huddleston asking me to donate to the University, I'm just going to send him the link to this article.
Tue Nov 20 2012 12:52
This is bullsh*t. You can't suspend a whole org for the independent actions of two students.
Tue Nov 20 2012 11:53
Just another example of the MUB overstepping students rights. It's just sad but maybe this will be big enough to turn some heads at the university.
Tue Nov 20 2012 10:49
Let's not forget that Nate Hastings, one of the "advisory board" members, is a manager for his own concert promotion company. Conflict of interest much? It's pretty clear that Dave Zamansky and him made some kind of deal so he could have SCOPE for himself. Some of the members of this org had career aspirations in the concert industry, but the MUB ruined that for them. It's kind of sickening that the MUB would punish all the members for the act of 2 individuals, especially because the matter was dealt with by the police that day. Not to mention this happened all the way back in April...
Tue Nov 20 2012 10:33
SCOPE launched so many careers in an industry that is nearly impossible to get into. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my experience with SCOPE. The University has no idea how far reaching and deep the decision to abolish this group goes. To expect that SCOPE can start with all new members someday is unrealistic. The punishment is severe and has more negative, far reaching, and long term affects than is positive. I see nothing gained by this decision.

- Faith, former SCOPE Hospitality Manager, Class of 2000, Corporate Event Manager
Christina Iannucci
Tue Nov 20 2012 08:06
You finally got what you wanted, Zamansky et. al. Now why don't you check out all of the Greek houses and sports houses for stolen street and bar signs. This is an absolute disgrace. I'll be withholding my alumni donation check this year until this gets a proper review.

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