Students’ Union Board of Directors approves 2018-19 budget

Photo by Madeline McInnis

Yesterday afternoon, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union held their final, transitionary Board of Directors meeting at the Waterloo campus.

The main component and goal of the meeting was to approve the budget for 2018-19 year.

After thorough deliberation and discussion, the board ultimately approved the operational budget with seven in favour, none opposed and one abstention.

The board decided to table the approval of the governance budget which is set to be approved by the incoming board at their first meeting.

“I think the board asked a lot of good questions and were critical of the budget,” Kanwar Brar, president and CEO of the Students’ Union, said. “They did their do-diligence and asked a lot of tough questions.”

For Tarique Plummer, incoming president and CEO of the Students’ Union, the approval of the operational budget is his first step towards accomplishing pieces of his platform and ensuring the union operates at an optimal state.

“With the approval yesterday, one item in itself from my 15-point platform has automatically been accomplished and that is the increase in financial support going towards sports clubs belonging to Laurier Athletics,” Plummer said.

“That program needs a great deal of help and financial assistance to allow them the opportunities to explore all the initiatives that they want to pursue.”

The main topic of discussion regarding the budget was the incoming president’s leadership budget set at $99,690, an amount over double the money allocated to this year’s president’s leadership budget which was set at $43,922.80.

Even so, Brar noted at the meeting that he has only used $9,279 as of March 31, 2018 out of the entire allotted amount.

As a result, numerous board members posed questions aimed at Plummer surrounding the intended use of the money in the leadership budget.

“We, for a long time as an organization, have been operating the same way and getting the same results and students are still asking what the organization does. So when I expanded the scope of my leadership budget increase … essentially I placed programs there that would directly benefit students,” Plummer said.

In contrast, the president’s leadership budget has been traditionally used for things such as travel expenses, daily necessities and supplies and more.

“My attempt to include all and to benefit all can be viewed as being very bold, can be viewed as being quite unconventional and can be viewed as being risky — but I believe it was necessary. I believe it will give students great benefit when I roll out these programs and they’re made aware and they have the added opportunity to pursue them as well,” Plummer said.

Despite Plummer’s pronounced vision for his tenure, he reiterated that this year will be primarily an opportunity to take the first steps towards accomplishing greater outcomes in the coming years.

“I do not expect everything to work in an ideal sense. There will be kinks, there will be hiccups … but we’ll have solid recommendations for next year,” Plummer said.

“I consider myself an assistant in building a foundation for those who come after me so that they will be in a very strong position. That’s something I am keen upon doing.”

Additionally, board members discussed the overall budget’s significant increase from the previous year’s budget.

Chris Turner, director of finance and administration at the Students’ Union, noted that the budget increase is correlated to the estimated 8.5 per cent increase in revenue.

The increase is said to be accumulated by the Students’ Union through increased undergraduate enrolment, the new orientation fee which came into fruition through recent referendum questions, higher quality concerts planned to be executed with higher entrance fees, increased number of students paying for health and dental fees, among other reasons.

At the end of the meeting, directors commended the work of their colleagues and all the accomplishments made by the board as their terms come to a close this Monday.

“It’s been a really good year; we’re proud of all our accomplishments. We did a lot of good work for students with our transparency, our accountability and enhanced services so I think that’s something to be proud of and students will benefit from for years down the road,” Brar said.

Looking towards next year, the incoming board of directors have been participating in a series of training sessions in order to be best prepared to begin their term.

“There has been a lot of good workshops which have taken place. We’ve brought in a lot of experts who are well versed in policy governance who have done the transition with the incoming board and it will be continuing so I think, moving forward, [the training] doesn’t end here,” Brar said.

Plummer also noted that he hopes the new board will be able to provide fresh perspectives and move forward with a collaborative approach having learnt from the ups and downs experienced by the current board.

“One of my hesitations on the previous board was that there was too much of a combating nature and not enough of a collaborative nature. I am excited to see what the new board will bring and I am excited to start my term May 1,” Plummer said.

The incoming Board of Directors are set to have their first meeting on May 12.

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