The small scale of the King Students’ Union’s budget has been a big topic of discussion lately. A town hall meeting was held at the end of January where president Anna Dubinski and financial vice-president Alex Bryant presented a predicted deficit of nearly $10,000.
They proposed an increase of $9.40 in student union dues per term. The increase would cover the deficit and leave room for growth in the union’s activity.
Although this year’s council has drafted a road map for a possible way out of the troubles, replacing Bryant as financial vice-president in the 2014-15 year seems a daunting task.
Emily Rendell-Watson, who is running unopposed, is looking to take on the responsibility.
The Watch: What kind of experience do you have with the KSU and money management?
Emily Rendell-Watson: I’m currently the journalism rep so that means that I attend council every week, work with journalism students and professors. My main project at the moment is organizing information sessions on upper-year electives for first-year students. I also represented King’s at a DSU meeting not too long ago. Last year, I sat on finance committee, which the financial VP chairs. Any requests from societies or travel bursaries go through the committee, who recommends to council whether or not the requests should go through.
W: What’s your opinion on the proposed increase of student dues by $9.40 per term?
ER-W: I’m for it. I spent a lot of time over the past month listening and learning about the budget and I sat down with Alex Bryant and talked with him in depth. This is something the union needs. Campaigns and events have been cut year after year. Insurance, staff raises, contingency, and legal funds are all things that have to go up. When the union grows, they do as well. We need to get rid of the deficit. It will allow the union to make it possible for you to go to the Wardroom without paying cover, use your ISIC card, or be able to ask someone about the health plan in the office. Students are paying a fee up-front for cheaper services later. If we want to take on a large project, such as The Galley, or if a legal issue arises, we need wiggle room. Making the exec honorarium more comparable to others of its size is also important. Being on the executive should be accessible. I had three jobs for the first part of the year. Right now I have two.
W: Upon election, how do you plan to continue the work that the union and financial committee has done this year?
ER-W: I think Alex did an excellent job as FVP. The FVP’s primary responsibility is towards union members because it’s their money, not the executive’s. He had very important values in terms of what he worked on and in how he kept in touch with union members. So, I hope to continue that and to keep opening up the discussion of the budget. Making the complicated numbers easier to understand is something I want to focus on because it’s important for students to know where their money is going.
W: Advertising around campus and in student publications has been suggested as a possible way to subsidize student projects and generate revenue. How do you feel about having a corporate presence at our university?
ER-W: King’s is a small community and because of that there aren’t too many opportunities for advertising. We don’t have big corporations, like a Subway, here and I think that’s what makes King’s so special. I can’t see anyone wanting it. I don’t want it. Keeping that in mind, they used advertising in the yearbook last year and that was important because it’s expensive to produce but free for students. Advertising in the day planner is another option for costs to be evened out.
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W: Do you have any other specific plans in mind should you be elected financial VP?
ER-W: I don’t think as FVP I’m going to stand in front of people at speeches with a set of promises. It’s more important that I share the values that are most important to me. You’re developing a budget with the union’s interests in mind. What I’ll say is I’m going to be responsible, maintain accessible services as a priority, and keep in mind that I need to be communicating with union members. In terms of actual plans, one thing I will focus on is travel bursaries. A lot of people don’t know they’re available if they want to branch out past the King’s community to another academic community. We always get to the end of the year and there’s a certain chunk of bursaries left. Also, the FVP is the only representative on the budget advisory committee and university finance committee, who governs the school’s finances. It’s especially important to commit to learning terms and understanding the process because you’re the only representative advocating for every student at King’s. The decisions they’re making affect every one of us. A lot of people don’t know those committee’s documents are available and that they can see where the money is going. This is the idea of financial transparency. I plan on bringing up points when the university might be making wrong calls on our behalf.