Date Posted: April 6, 2011
Print Edition: April 1, 2011
Fees: we all pay them – they’re the collection of numbers added to the end of our tuition bills. They cover a multitude of things: CIVL Radio, this newspaper, and the Student Union Society. Their job is to represent the student body and its interests: but how good a job do they really do?
Recently, there has been talk of potential budget cuts in the SUS. The reasoning behind these cuts is specific – there’s a current proposal being tabled that would mean students who are simply upgrading wouldn’t be required to pay the SUS fee, and this would mean a fairly significant drop in income for the SUS. Additionally, this proposal acknowledges the fact that last year’s SUS budget was already in need of some rather significant changes.
Jason Leboe, SUS’s last VP Finanace, explained: “Well here’s the thing: the guy in charge of the budget last year took accounting classes, so he knows how to play with the numbers. He did a little too much creative accounting.” This practice led to things such as the $7,600 allotted for cell phone reimbursements for staff members. The current budget has now reduced this number to $1,900 – $30 per month per person, attributed to the lack of actual claims for reimbursements. “I really tried this year to budget what would actually be spent,” said Leboe.
Of the total budget cuts to be made ($58,000), $28,000 will come from Administration (things such as cell phones, paper, and legal representation), $10,000 will come from Student Government, and only $2,000 will come from student services. These services include a multitude of things: the DisO concert in September, clubs and associations, and health and dental plans. In other words, the majority of the money being cut is not being taken directly from the student body.
A point of concern for some is that if the upgrading student body is excused from the SUS fees, they will also be excluded from the Cascade and CIVL fees, simply due to the configuration of the computer program that divides up the fees when assigning costs to students. Whether or not this program will be changed is still uncertain – the sentiments expressed by SUS members and admissions employees reflect uncertainty that administration will be willing to alter their system. The implications of an across-the-board cut are as of yet unknown, but it is likely that similar amounts would need to be cut from each budget.
Changes to fees may seem like they have a small effect on a student-to-student basis, but the smallest of alterations can result in a much larger change to the budgets that affect the student body in its entirety. To keep informed about how changes to your fees will affect you and your university, ask questions: see a member of your Student Union Society, talk to your fellow classmates, or ask a member of The Cascade to look into it so the issue can be brought to light.