The working group formed after following last spring’s Migos booking scam concluded its work late summer 2017 and modified procedures in attempts to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.
The modifications require Student Programming Council (SPC) to work with an Emory-authorized intermediate agent to secure and coordinate logistics associated with musical performances, Campus Life Senior Director for Communications Tomika DePriest wrote in a Nov. 14 email to the Wheel. The working group expanded the approval process to involve more people, including the SPC president, SPC vice president, SPC treasurer, Student Government Association (SGA) president and SGA vice president of finance, according to DePriest.
Associate Vice President for Community Suzanne Onorato told the Wheel in a November 2017 interview that the booking process had changed, but she declined to elaborate on the exact changes, saying, “All the policies and protocols were reviewed and revamped.”
Onorato said that vendors in future bookings will now be “mostly” chosen from the pre-approved vendor list. However, guidelines before the Migos scam already promoted the use of pre-approved vendors.
“Emory requires that student groups purchase from an approved list of vendors unless the product they are purchasing is not offered by any of the preferred vendors,” the 2016-2017 Eagle Source Treasurer’s Handbook reads.
Global Talent Agency, the fraudulent third-party entity claiming to represent Migos, was not on Emory’s pre-approved vendor list.
“[Global Talent Agency] had all the paperwork [and tax information] they needed to have. They were just really good at developing … fake information,” Onorato said. “We really want to limit working with [agencies not on the pre-approved vendor list]. It doesn’t mean that we would never do it again but that we would have a very different set of eyes going into it.”
Three committees made up the working group, Onorato said. Each had individual assignments and aspects of the policies and protocols to focus on before coming together and implementing “what made sense.” Onorato declined to provide more details on the respective assignments.
SPC, SGA and Campus Life formed last semester the working group, which met late last summer, according to Onorato. She also said she met three times during Spring 2017 with SPC members who have since graduated.
“We had a lot of conversation around how we could have better helped them, what were some of the things that they needed from us … that they didn’t get, what were some of the things that they just didn’t understand and needed to work through, what were pieces of their protocol that needed to be added, anything that needed to be subtracted — we just wanted to work through all of that,” Onorato said.
Onorato declined to elaborate on what the outgoing members of SPC said needed to change during the working group committee meetings, and former SPC President Ria Sabnis (17B), who headed the club organization during the Migos debacle, did not respond to the Wheel’s requests for an interview.
The spring 2017 approval process in the Migos fiasco involved the SPC band party chairs, the Office of the General Counsel, SPC Advisor Vernon Smith and Senior Director of Campus Life Finance, Administration and Operations David Furhman, the Wheel reported March 29.
The Wheel reported in August 2017 that Student Governance Services (SGS) discontinued vendor deposit payments, but no other changes related to fraud prevention have been announced to club treasurers.
SGA President Gurbani Singh (18B) declined a request for interview, directing the Wheel to Director of the Office of Student Involvement, Leadership and Transitions Lisa Loveall, who serves as the SGA adviser. Loveall also declined a request for interview, directing the Wheel to DePriest. DePriest directed the Wheel back to Onorato before DePriest emailed the Wheel a statement.
Emory has not reimbursed students for the money SGS sent to Global Talent Agency. Onorato told the Wheel in March that if the money is recovered it would go back to students.
Richard Chess contributed reporting.