Davenport approves of Tompkins' endowment
By Karena Walter
A new student endowment fund has been praised by the university's president and will be recommended to Western's highest governing body.
The campus and community affairs committee voted yesterday to recommend to the Board of Governors that the $50 student support fee collected by the university be eliminated. Instead, the plan calls for the University Students' Council to establish an additional $50 endowment fee which it will collect.
"The issue of student aid is very close to the hearts of students right now," said Dave Tompkins, the council's president, during his presentation to the committee.
Since 1993, students have had to pay a $50 support fee to the university for scholarships which added up to almost $1 million this school year. The council would like to collect the money starting this summer and then endow it to the university. The $1 million will stay in the bank but will be added to each year and will collect interest for student aid every year.
"Students would essentially see no difference in their fees to the university," Tompkins said.
As well, any money pledged to the university before March 31 will be matched by the provincial government under the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund. Money collected for the endowment fund initiative will be matched for the next three years.
However, the Society of Graduate Students supports a slightly different proposal. Thirty per cent of its members are out-of-province or international students and they cannot take advantage of the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund. Society president Andrew Hui asked that a separate fund be set up for the first three years of the program to distribute aid to those out-of-province students based on financial need.
"All of the universities protested when the OSOTF fund was restricted to Ontario students," Western president Paul Davenport said, adding it impeded mobility within the country and internationally. "We all felt that was a mistake."
Davenport called the fund initiative imaginative and said the administration had waited to see what the university's budget and grant fees from the province would be before it could take the steps towards the new fund. The $1 million shortfall will mean variations in the budget for 1997/98 and in 1998/99 the money will have to be found somewhere else, he said.
A provision in the initiative will stipulate students must make contributions to the fund for at least 20 years.
"One of the criticisms people have is we haven't endowed enough of our money," Davenport said. "It strengthens us in an area we need strengthening.
"It is an initiative we feel positive about to propose to the Board."
The proposal will be put forward at the students' council meeting tonight as the council must pass the increase in the student fees.
The committee meeting was the first of three open sessions of the campus and community affairs committee this year. The open meetings were part of a new initiative after the UWO Act was opened last fall.