Director gets canned
By Donna MacMullin
Financial hardships have meant the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance has given its founder and executive director the pink slip.
Mike Burns said he is scouting for job prospects and might consider travelling as his position will soon be taken over by a part-time executive director in February.
Chris Walsh, Western's VP-student issues, said the decision to lay off Burns came in response to an examination of the provincial lobby group's annual budget which indicated they had overspent and were operating with a deficit.
However, Burns said he had also considered leaving soon. "When I first took this position I saw myself staying for two years and I have now been here over two-and-a-half [years]," he said. "So the financial situation and my own interests kind of worked together in this decision."
An interim director will be chosen by member schools today.
"We will be appointing someone for the interim there are already a couple of candidates vying for the position," Burns said. "By May we should have a new executive director."
Walsh said the smaller budget will mean OUSA will have a smaller projected surplus than planned and therefore will have to operate with a tighter wallet for the rest of this year.
"I am confident we can have a surplus at the end of this year which will put us on solid financial ground for next year," Burns said and added OUSA is hoping to acquire the University of Windsor as a new member, which would eliminate the deficit.
Lesley McMillan, president of the Student Union at Brock University, which is a OUSA member school, said the group had experienced financial difficulties largely after Queen's University decided to withdraw its membership.
McMillan said she hopes to see a re-examination of OUSA's policies and expects they will question which issues are still relevant. "They should definitely be looking at a new policy on tuition and student loans," she said.
In retrospect, McMillan said Burns was good at lobbying and recognized his own limitations. "The group owes him thanks," she said. "Overall I think this is a blessing in disguise."