Editorial: More details, less dreaming

Scott Hastie
October 16, 2014
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Student Representative Assembly is on the verge of making a $215,000 decision. MSU President Teddy Saull introduced a motion to allocate the substantial amount of cash to Campus Events to throw a year-end celebration. The logic behind the spending is that the MSU, a non-profit organization, has been posting healthy surplus for the past handful of years, and so the union is making money from students.

On Oct. 19, the SRA will vote on this proposed celebration, where there are three options of dollar amounts to give to Campus Events. I’m not arguing about the need for a year-end celebration – you can do that in the opinions section this week. It’s the process that’s wrong.

In asking for the allocation, Saull does not provide a tangible outline for what the money will get. The act, venue, date and length of the event are all unknown. The SRA is voting on something that they know nothing about. As currently presented, this is a pipe dream. And “dreams” are an overarching theme to Saull’s time as President. For my money, I do not want dreams. I want plans with timelines, known quantities, and firm details. Instead, the memo provides only the bare bones of a plan.

Saull’s goal is commendable. He wants to provide students with value for their money, and he believes that a year-end party is the way to provide that value. Never mind that he has not looked for student input, why is the conversation revolving around spending the surplus instead of solving the over-taxing of students? Let’s figure out why we continue to make more money than needed year after year, and then adjust the fees accordingly.

Long-term, there could be ramifications from this seemingly one-off decision. The language used in Saull’s memo references the Emergency First Response Team as an example of student administration taking a leap to create something new for students. He also references the Homecoming Expo, the Peer Support Line and Spark – all programs that run every year.

Referencing those programs as justification for the party is dangerous territory. This is supposed to be a way of spending student surplus, not the creation of an annual event. And with $5 million in MSU reserves, this party could become a regular thing, which is not what is being pitched in the memo.*

It is possible that this is what students want. But the memo only went online on Oct. 9, and the MSU has not provided much opportunity for student input. @MSU_McMaster has not tweeted about it. To his credit, finance commissioner Daniel D’Angela asked for feedback via Twitter, prompting some discussion. Saull has not even tweeted about his own idea.

The process of getting this “dream” actualized is a sham, and the SRA should recognize this. You should not get to pitch a loose idea and ask for a cheque – especially one drawn from surplus money – to achieve it without any semblance of planning and foresight. With the lack of the information and insignificant student input, Sunday’s vote will be a representation of what the SRA wants, not what students want.

Correction: MSU reserves can only be spent on capital improvements.

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