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Potential impeachment brews at UAlbany as student president accused of misusing student money

Potential impeachment brews at UAlbany as student president accused of misusing student money

Student finance board accuses student association president of using funds for personal purchases
Potential impeachment brews at UAlbany as student president accused of misusing student money
A building on the academic podium at the University at Albany is seen in a file photo.
Photographer: gazette file photo

ALBANY -- The same day President Donald Trump’s impeachment charges were cleared in the United States Senate, the University at Albany’s Student Association began debating whether to impeach its own president. 

Student senators on Wednesday accused Student Association President Desann Chin-Carty of making over $1,000 of unnecessary purchases and misusing the student association’s credit card.

The seven-member Student Association Board of Finance voted Feb. 2 to recommend the student Senate impeach Chin-Carty and redraft bylaws to prevent future abuse of the SA credit card.

“It’s not a piggy bank, it’s not meant for whatever you want,” Board of Finance Chair Sam Salazar said to the student senators at a student association meeting Wednesday night. 

Hundreds of UAlbany students Wednesday night filled a campus meeting room to watch the finance board and Chin-Carty speak about the flagged purchases.

The purchases called into question included glow-in-the-dark pebbles used in Chin-Carty’s personal fountain; she said the fountain helped soothe her, and that it was originally bought for others.

The UAlbany student government, elected by the students, oversees more than $2 million in student fee money each year. The school’s mandatory $110 student activity fee goes to fund student clubs, events on campus, and services to students, all of which is managed by the association.

Chin-Carty defended her purchases at the crowded meeting Wednesday night, and she criticized the finance board’s investigation, which began in December.

“I didn’t know what charges were charged against me. I asked them for more information and clarity, and a lot of those questions were shut down. I felt verbally abused,” Chin-Carty said during the 10 minutes she was given to defend herself. 

The student finance board accused Chin-Carty of purchasing what appear to be personal items with money earmarked for SA office equipment and called on other student senators to vote for an impeachment trial.

For example, Chin-Carty spent $73.96 on candle warmers, wax, and a gold-colored tray according to the Board of Finance’s investigation. She also bought essential oils and gold-colored magazine holders for her desk. Chin-Carty also brought the SA credit card off campus on several occasions, in one instance accidentally using it at Cheesecake Factory. 

This is not the first time the UAlbany community has heard about questionable purchases from their student government. 

“The Student Association has been a laughingstock for years for doing the same things,” Board of Finance vice chairwoman Molly Donelan said at the public meeting. “That ends today.” 

The tense meeting, often punctuated with bangs of Senate Chairman Nick Chin’s gavel to maintain order, ended around 12:15 a.m. without a vote on whether to hold an impeachment trial. Campus Center Management only usually allows the Student Association to use the room until midnight. Custodians waiting to clean up the room came in promptly after the meeting adjourned.

Chin said he would have to call a special session to vote on the impeachment trial. A potential trial would be difficult to predict since rules for how to impeach a president aren’t in the current SA bylaws.

Student Senator Halimatou Diallo said she would support a trial once they have an opportunity to cast a vote. 

“I want to go to trial just to see what happens,” said Diallo. “Because I feel like we won’t hear the proof unless we’re at a trial.”

Others at the meeting and on Twitter mourned the fact that it took such a serious incident for students to show up to the usually sparsely attended Senate meetings.

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