Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Who will I serve? The Students

This last weekend the Student Service Finance Committee (which I was elected to last April) had its annual retreat which had its share of controversial moments and discussions. One inter-group conversation of particular note was the question of whether it was our obligation as committee members to have lobbying/discussion sessions with GSSF groups (the groups that are eligible for SSFC funding)? One member (Rep Kiernoziak) expressed her opinion saying that we were not obligated to meet with these GSSF groups and that it was for the groups’ benefits and not ours. Then quickly two other group member voiced their opinion on how we should be obligated to meet with these groups for lobbying sessions and that we as committee members were the main beneficiaries. I spoke after reaffirming Kiernoziak’s opinion that we were not obligated to meet with these groups and that lobbying was primarily for the GSSF group’s interests. One member of the dissenting side quickly tried to end discussion either because she did not want things to get heated or she did not want to fight a losing battle. This small quarrel about a fairly trivial issue is really about a more important issue. The real issue is about who we are serving as SSFC members: the GSSF groups or the students?

Here is why I am serving the students:

1. As an SSFC elected official, I was chosen by the students to represent them and their money on the committee. The rest of the representatives were either elected directly by the students, came out ASM Council (which all were elected), or were appointed by elected officials through the Nominations Board. We were all chosen indirectly or directly by the students so I feel it is our job to serve them. We were not chosen by GSSF groups to allocate their money.

2. This money is not anybody else’s money but the students. Every student pays SEG fees each year ($612 out of tuition) and SSFC has the power to dole out around $100 to $200 of it out to groups on campus. This money has not been entrusted to GSSF Groups to allocate it amongst themselves. This money also should not be entrusted with SSFC Committee Members who are members of these groups or are subject to the interests of these groups. The money should be entrusted to people that are completely objective and will use the money to fund groups making a difference on campus. If not then the money should not be used at all and given back to the students.

3. My job is not to meet with the GSSF groups and tell them how to use their money. My job rather is to look at their budget and make changes and cuts in order that tuition money is used wisely and effectively. I will meet with GSSF groups if they want to speak to me but I am not required to by job description. I can make my own decisions on budgets without speaking to them and that will probably be the case for many of the groups.

4. Observe the name: “Student Service Finance Committee”. I am not a member of the GSSF Service Finance Committee or the Special Interests Finance Committee. I am not sure if all committee members are part of the Student Service Finance Committee but I can assure you I am.

I will continue to influence the committee to work towards serving the students. The money you pay in for SEG fees should be used responsibly. I will fight for complete objectivity within the committee and make sure your money is not being fed to groups in the name of special and selfish interests.


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