Council members wheel n' deal
By Dave Yasvinski
Representatives from the University Students' Council returned from Montreal last weekend after attending a successful meeting of the Canadian Campus Business Consortium.
The meeting, which ran Nov. 24-29, featured representatives from student councils across the country. It provided an opportunity for major suppliers to make presentations to student representatives, said Jim Walden, general manager of the USC.
"It's another step in the process of establishing major contracts," Walden said.
The meeting gave student councils the chance to share experiences and ideas with each other about the kinds of contracts which have been and should be formed with corporations, he said. He added nothing major was expected to come out of the meeting but several projects were advanced.
"I wouldn't say a consensus is possible, except that everyone agrees that the consumer is the student. If there are favourable results to be achieved in any of these [endeavours], students should be the beneficiaries," he said.
"It's always nice, as student associations, if we can give students better deals," Bill Smith, general manager of the University of Alberta's Students' Union and president of the CCBC said prior to the meeting.
Presentations were made by Pepsi and Coke, who have been in the business of forming exclusive beverage deals with universities across the country, Walden said. "They both talked about their corporate philosophies. There is a certain resignation that it is happening. You can either get nothing or get something."
Some of the new initiatives looked at during the meeting included long distance rates, internet hookups and cellular phone deals, said Ian Armour, president of the USC. The USC is also trying to decrease the costs of producing the Westernizer by making it universal and getting other schools to adopt its format, Armour added.
"The student unions will tell us if they're interested in getting involved in the Westernizer initiative."
Armour said a presentation was also made by the Royal Bank of Canada. Because financial aid is such a major problem, there is a need to start talking about student interest rates and default rates, he added. "They agreed to be in consultation and are going to try to tailor their programs to students."
Dave Small, VP-finance for the USC, said overall the meeting was successful. "I think it went really well. We're at a really prosperous time for the CCBC. A lot of companies have realized the importance of the 300,000 plus students the CCBC represents."
Small said they are also looking into discount car rental rates for students who may only need a car for the summer months or the Christmas holidays. "We're trying to get the end buyer students cheaper rates."
"There is an advantage in working with the corporate world instead of governments," Small added.
Walden said the CCBC's Board of Directors will use the information it gathered during this meeting to conduct further negotiations with suppliers on behalf of the CCBC.
Smith said the information gathered at the meeting helps guide the Board of Directors. "At the meetings we get input from members and we bring it to the next level."