Volume 94, Issue 90

Tuesday, March 13, 2001


NEWS

USC gets the budget blues - "Conservative" figures go to council tomorrow

Ex-U of T profs sue for equality

Toronto university plagues by unfortunate incidents

New Web site says no ixnay on the apsternay

Amnesty report sours celebration for Women's Day

Arizona U studies psychics' abilities

Drunk drivers, knives, and crack, oh my!

USC gets the budget blues - "Conservative" figures go to council tomorrow

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

Last year's freeze of University Students' Council student fees continues to be second guessed by the current council, but at least one member of last year's USC stands by the decision.

Last Wednesday, USC VP-finance Dave Brebner and general manager Mark Sellars introduced the USC's budget figures for the past year and projections for the year to come. The budget approved by last year's council froze USC student fees and projected a surplus of $316,555 for the past 12 months.

But according to figures released by Brebner, the surplus will instead be a deficit of $51,424 – a difference of $367,979. To make up for the difference Brebner has recommended a student fee increase of 1.3 per cent, or $4.67 per student. Both Brebner and Sellars attributed the difference to errors in judgment on the part of last year's USC board of directors.

Specifically, Sellars said last year's council bowed to expedience when they froze student fees for short-term political gains.

Reached via e-mail in Hong Kong where he is currently on exchange, last year's VP-finance Derrick Taub refused to comment on the situation. "Unfortunately I cannot talk about the USC budget," he wrote. "I am no longer a member of the USC. Nor am I knowledgeable enough about current USC activities to speak about them with any validity."

Perry Monaco, last year's VP-campus issues, said the student fee freeze was appropriate at the time it was passed. "It was the right decision for the time," he said. "Council demanded a student fee freeze and [the board of directors] gave it to them."

According to Monaco the budget can only be considered a guideline. "Our budget was contingent on a bunch of USC operations pulling their weight and board members doing their job," he said. "It's just a guideline, it was never set in stone. It's an estimate based on a number of factors."

Chair of the Student Caucus on Governance and a long time member of council, Neil Kapoor, said 12 months later the decision to freeze fees does seem mistaken. "Hindsight is 20/20," he said. "In retrospect, it appears the freeze was not appropriate."

Kapoor explained not increasing the student fees by the rate of inflation actually acted as a fee decrease.

This year's budget is much safer, he added.

"This budget is a lot more conservative," he said. "The assumptions are a lot more realistic, so we don't fall into the same trap."

The proposed budget will come before council tomorrow for debate and final approval.


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