UA Judicial Board calls Lil B expenditure 'constitutionally inappropriate'

UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE: The Tech has published an updated version of this article at

The Undergraduate Association Judicial Board issued a decision last week which found that UA President Shruti Sharma ’15 had authorized a “constitutionally inappropriate” transaction when she transferred $12,500 to fund Lil B’s November visit to MIT.

The rapper had given a 90-minute talk to a packed audience in 32-123, sharing his thoughts on everything from racism to photosynthesis.

UA Judicial Board chairman John W. Halloran ’15 emailed the decision to councillors on March 24 after treasurer Ryan A. McDermott ’15 had discussed the expenditure with Council as an emergency item at a March 18 meeting. Several councillors at the meeting had requested a constitutional ruling from the Judicial Board, and a straw poll indicated that Council was not comfortable adding a line item to cover the expense until checks on similar behavior were implemented.

McDermott said at the meeting that Sharma had signed off on the expense herself and that there had been no communication between himself and Sharma. He said in an email to The Tech that he did not know that the UA had funded rapper Lil B’s lecture until he ran a transaction report on the UA’s umbrella account in January.

Sharma had authorized the unbudgeted expenditure after a student falsely claiming to be a member of the Black Student Union (BSU) requested the funds from the UA. The student, in fact, had only signed up with the BSU at an activities midway.

Sharma was mostly quiet during Council’s discussion, but she did refer to the “time sensitivity” of the transaction and said “it was to be brought to council, but … we decided to go with our discretionary budget.”

Sharma has not responded to an email requesting further comment.

It is unclear whether MIT procurement had signed a contract with Lil B’s booking agent in response to the student’s request before Sharma had signed the authorization. There is no record of the exact date Sharma approved the transaction.

The Judicial Board, in its decision, found that the $12,500 expenditure exceeded the amount allocated to the Officer’s Discretionary Fund ($5,000 under the fall 2014 budget) and was thus “constitutionally inappropriate … regardless of [Sharma’s] financial signatory status or a need for executive expediency.”

Though the board acknowledged that there were “extenuating circumstances” surrounding the authorization, it said that the Constitution only permits UA officers to “act in lieu of Council” under certain conditions; in particular, decisions must be reached with “a majority of all officers voting in favor” and must be “subject to subsequent review by the Council at its next meeting.”

“First of all, it is unclear if the rest of the Officers were notified of the transfer,” the Judicial Board wrote in its decision. “Secondly ... the President should have notified the Council at the next meeting.”

“The President has a duty to ‘make a good faith effort to keep the Council informed of all pertinent matters,’” the Judicial Board wrote, citing the UA Constitution and writing that “a non-budgeted $12,500 expense should certainly be considered pertinent.”

“This failure to notify Council sooner was not in compliance with the listed duties of the UA President in the Constitution.”

According to the UA’s website, about a third of its funds are derived from a portion of the MIT student-life fee collected along with tuition from all MIT students, while most of the remaining two-thirds come out of the General Institute Budget.

Freedom about 9 years ago

The best way to model the UA's actions is to imagine a bunch of people whose primary goal is to hurt MIT students.

Freedom about 9 years ago

Similar: The best way to model the media is to imagine a bunch of people whose primary goal is to hurt the American people.

Anon about 9 years ago

Shruti Sharma should be impeached for this scandal.

Freedom about 9 years ago

3- Take the time to Google the faces of corrupt UA leadership. Let them burn into your memory.

Those are the faces that move up the ladder quickly. Glibness and lies are what works in a democracy.

Take the time to Google the face of the less corrupt UA leadership. Let them burn into the memory.

Those faces are the ones who are getting displaced among the American elite. They are salt of the earth and believe in honesty, fairness, etc. But they think the other side is honest and fairness too. And this weakness means they are constantly be vilified by the media.

It's not a fair or honest game. The dishonest ones talk about compassion but they actually hate you and will abuse their power as much as they can. It's a total war and honesty will never win. Buckle down and stay safe.

The lesson: be dishonest to survive, and hide your hypocrisy.

#1984 (Let's see if this honest comment gets deleted.)

Freedom about 9 years ago

Ha. Just read the Editorial by The Tech recommmending Sharma and Ndengeyingoma.

Rule of thumb: If an establishment newspaper recommends candidates, then they are the worst candidates possible.

But the worst candidate will usually win. Let's examine.

The Tech said Sperling and Varady lacked "tact and sensitivity necessary to manage complex, confidential, and sensitive situations."

In other words, Sperling and Varady were less manipulative than Sharma and Ndengeyingoma. They probably prioritized being honest instead.

Sharma and Ndengeyingoma, on the other hand, are more "tactful," meaning they are able to appease fellow politicians (such as previous UA leadership--- please, Google their faces too) who are themselves also very "tactful" (translation: empty suits). Better being able "to manage complex, confidential and sensitive situations" means they are better able to follow a litany of little rules to come out on top of what ultimately is a vapid group that spends much of their time keeping up appearances.

We now see what being able to manage complex situations using all kinds of little tricks gets you.

Little use fighting back. The bad will push out the good. Just remember that a newspaper is a propaganda outlet, and you will be basically correct if you pretend every newspaper article is a lie. (See my comment 2.)

Eric about 9 years ago

I am not sure why there are no consequences for Shruti Sharma or other corrupt UA officers, beyond a lame Tech article.

Anonymous about 9 years ago

I wonder how the good people at the Gates Cambridge Trust would feel about this.

swag about 9 years ago


Anonymous about 9 years ago

I think we're all missing the real question. Why is Lil B considered an authority on photosynthesis?

TYBG about 9 years ago

Based God brought wisdom MIT hasn't seen in 152 years. Perspective not opinions everyone.

Anon about 9 years ago

Why haven't they released the name of the "student falsely claiming to be a member of the Black Student Union" who requested the money in the first place? The people need to know the whole story, and I think that includes his/her story, as well as the stories of the BSU and the UA. This is reprehensible behavior surely, but each party deserves a fair trial before being assumed to be guilty. It seems like the updated version of this article suggests that Sharma and the BSU have apologized, but this student is left remaining nameless and free of his/her share of guilt.

anon about 9 years ago

I think this is being blown out of proportion. The UA has an enormous budget (1200 is a very tiny fraction) and the president put it to good use by organizing a motivational talk for the benefit of the student body. I want to remind everyone how successful the talk was - yet the UA didn't receive credit. Since when has the UA done something more than through ice cream socials? Being the president of the UA is a thankless job and I think all these personal accusations are uncalled for and the result of some political power play that the rest of us have no clue about.