The Student Union Society (SUS) freed $80,000–$110,000 in annual expenses for themselves by quashing the Canoe. In its first year, the Canoe ran a $79,500 deficit; year two, a $113,571 deficit; year three had a $88,297 projected deficit.
Where will the money now go?
SUS president, Gurvir Gill, said they’ve reallocated the funds to hiring a front desk assistant and an events coordinator, but also towards the shuttle bus.
But the shuttle bus is funded by the Inter-Campus Shuttle Bus fee — a student fee that goes into the pool of approximately $3.5 million per year of “earmarked” funds that disappear without breakdowns. These are collected from the various SUS fees outside of what contributes to the operational budget, and it’s very frequently left out of budget conversations.
At the 10-month-late budget presentation in February 2018, the SUS talked about the challenges they faced keeping the Canoe afloat. In plain language, they couldn’t balance the cost of food with the price they sold it at, especially with a 49 per cent cost of goods.
The reality: students didn’t want to buy food at the rate the SUS chose to sell it at. But that doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t viable. (A properly run restaurant typically only needs a 25–35 per cent cost of goods to run with a healthy profit. Casual dining shouldn’t be above mid 20s.)
The SUS stated that they’ll offer the Canoe’s space to a franchise. So if they rent out the space, where will that income go? It certainly shouldn’t go into any SUS budget line without affecting student fees.
Students, you’re owed a refund, but don’t expect one.
The relationship that students have come to expect sees the SUS operating a restaurant. Obviously that’s not going to happen. But if a franchise decides the space is worth paying for, student fees should be reduced by an amount proportional to the restaurant’s rent.
In other news that demonstrates poor use of student money, the rave/concert planned for last Friday by the SUS would have cost about $20,000, which is kind of strange and obscene for a small show. Due to the last minute cancellation, the SUS still paid about 30 per cent, according to Gill.
With tickets going for $15, it would take 1,334 sales to break even. Naturally, the SUS is willing to fund events, but apparently not $19,000+ for the 50 or so students (SUS official numbers) who bought tickets. The SUS shut down their profitable Fair Grounds café for a full day to push ticket sales. Still no dice.
The SUS didn’t have the foresight to see that an on-campus rave wouldn’t sell. Clearly they don’t have any finger on the pulse of students. It raises the question: SUS, what are you doing?
From the current SUS executive team, students were promised a proper breakdown of SUS finances and an increased amount of better program offerings.
But within the last two years, the student union axed their agreement with the Cheam Leisure Centre, promising to build their own gym, in partnership with UFV, at the CEP campus. The “gym” is surplus equipment in old office space, and the funds have seemingly gone nowhere.
Additionally, the two rooms reserved for the Pride Centre and Gender Equality Centre remain dark; fixIT IT service, previously operated by the SUS, was shut down; and the most successful on-campus student event, Child’s Play, which was organized by, and brought in hundreds of, students, not to mention thousands of dollars for charity, was put to an end by the SUS.
From an onlooker perspective, the SUS’s big plans to rebrand and create a new experience for students have only been to cut programs. Is this the new image that the SUS is going for? Cut programs and sell promises?
Students aren’t interested in hype. They are interested in having their money used responsibly.