A more-endowed council
By Karena Walter
Students helping students pay for their educations. It's a rather unique idea being proposed by Western's student council president in an attempt to start a new scholarship fund.
Presently, every student at the university pays a $50 student support fee to Western. The compulsory ancillary fee brought in $985,000 for the university this school year.
University Students' Council president Dave Tompkins is meeting with Western senior administration today to propose the fee be collected by the USC instead of the university. The council would then endow the money to the university but would have directional control over where a portion of the funds would go.
"We're not comfortable with the fee," Tompkins said. Although the administration says the $50 is being used for scholarships now, the USC has never been provided with any detailed accounting, he said.
Last year, student council president Gillian Anderson proposed that the student support fee be abolished altogether. The Board of Governors rejected the proposal but made a commitment to review the fees, Tompkins said.
"With a stable government grant this year there is an opportunity to eliminate the fee and use it for a different purpose," Tompkins said. "Something that will benefit students directly."
When money is endowed to the university, only the interest can be spent and scholarships would be funded with this interest. The USC would collect about $ 1 million every year which would never be touched. However, the interest therefore the fund would increase every year.
As an added bonus, if the idea is approved students can double the money going into the fund. For the next three years the provincial government will match donations as part of its Student Opportunity Trust Fund.
"The beauty of this is our student fees don't change at all," Tompkins said. "We're guaranteed the money will go to students' futures."
However, the university needs revenue from the fees and may have to wait for a decision from the Ministry of Education and Training about the ability of the school to raise tuition, Tompkins said. This million dollars accounts for about 0.4 per cent of the university's total operating budget.
"It's a major decision for us to consider reconfiguring the budget," said Western's VP-administration Peter Mercer. However, he said he is very open to the suggestion and added the administration understands the need for scholarships for its students.
The proposal would have to be passed by the Board of Governors before being put into effect. Tompkins hopes if the idea is accepted the scholarship money would be available for the 1998 school year.