Volume 96, Issue 66
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

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Double trouble for student services?

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

A proposed fund to help alleviate the strain of next year's double cohort on Western's student services is raising concerns about which services are eligible to receive money and which are not.

The $1 million contingency fund proposed for next year's budget will only be available to "non-academic support units," said Chris Sinal, president of the University Students' Council.

Non-academic support units are those which are funded directly by the university's operating budget, said Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, noting these services include human resources, physical plant and finance.

Services not eligible to request money are those funded by student ancillary fees, including student financial aid, the Student Development Centre and Student Health Services, Mercer explained.

In addition to tuition fees, over $300 in ancillary fees are paid by each student at Western, Sinal explained.

"It was brought to [the Student Services Committee's] attention that there was a fund that will allow non-academic support units to apply for funding, [in order to assist them] in getting ready for double cohort related pressures," he said.

"I suspect [ancillary services] will be affected by the double cohort, but they can't apply to this fund," Sinal said. Without access, Sinal said he expects one of two things could occur.

"Ancillary fees could rise dramatically, or services might be cut," he explained.

"[Ancillary services] automatically get more money when their are more students," Mercer said, but noted the Western services that can apply for money do not automatically get additional funding with more students.

"If you're in finance, the mere fact that you have more students, does not mean more money," he explained.

The proposed fund will receive approximately $1 million a year for four years, he added.

Josh Morgan, USC VP-education, said that allowing only certain services to apply for additional money affects the daily quality of life for students.

"We want to ensure [a student's] daily quality of life, and the impacts the double cohort have on these, receive the attention they deserve," Morgan added.

"This fall has been particularly difficult. There are already increases [in the number of students]," said Gail Hutchinson, director of the Student Development Centre.

The fact the SDC cannot draw upon the proposed fund, is not a large concern, she said.

"We already get more fees the more students there are," Hutchinson said, noting that, while these fees will offer some aid, they may not meet the expected demand.

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2002 THE GAZETTE