Recently students and the Board of Governors (BoG) at Concordia have been asking for the budget of the Concordia Student Union. The CSU has refused to disclose its financial records to BoG, and in turn, BoG has said that it will withhold funding until it sees the CSU’s budget. Council of representatives councillor John Gravel wanted a book to be made available to students in the CSU’s front office that documents the details of the financial records of the union, but council voted that down.
CSU President Sabine Friesinger says the records are not closed to students, but rather there are “procedures that need to be followed.” In other words, a student can have access to the financial records of the student union, but only if they make an appointment with VP Finance Sameer Zuberi.
Holding such appointments shows that the CSU is not being as transparent as it claims to be. Requiring a scheduled meeting puts up an obstacle that makes it harder for students to get information they have a right to know. If the student union has nothing to hide, then why not have the financial records in the open as Gravel has suggested?
It is not enough to only make a general budget available. More specific details like receipts, disbursements and financial transactions must be available at the main office of the CSU. It is these details that can really determine if the student union is run well financially. The general budget does not detail how exactly money is received and distributed. How much does each club get? Are clubs getting a proportionate amount of money with their number of activities and members? Are clubs being held accountable for the money that they are spending? This information must be widely available to all students, so that they know that their one million dollars is being spent wisely.
Making only a general budget and not detailed financial records available to all students reduces the transparency of the CSU and could lead to suspicions that finances may be mismanaged. Moreover, it takes away the accountability the CSU owes to students. The student union must do more to make their financial records are transparent, as it was only two years ago that the CSU was defrauded of $200,000 and students were the ones that got the shaft.