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Clubs Funding Raises Questions

by Archives January 27, 2009

Last year the CSU handed out $100,000 to over 50 student clubs on campus, but a review of student group finances by The Concordian has found multiple cases of questionable spending approved by the CSU.
CSU-approved groups and clubs get roughly $160,000 from a per-credit fee levy. Of this, $60,000 is spent on administrative expenses, with the rest going to the groups.
Every group seeking student funding must submit a budget at the beginning of the year. The CSU Clubs and Space Committee then deliberates on each of the budgets, approving or denying requests and assigning a maximum budget to each group, which can range anywhere from several hundred dollars to almost $10,000.
Priscilla Gomes, VP clubs and space, describes the funding as “student money going back to students. That’s what we’re all about.”
While the CSU says the money is intended to enrich the university as a whole, some of the funding raises serious questions.
Last year Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), requested $2,600 to sponsor a soccer team. While the CSU did not approve the full amount, $1,400 of student money was spent on the team.
Gomes stresses it was a mistake that won’t happen again. “Technically they didn’t do anything wrong,” she said, noting they filed a proper request. Gomes said the mistake was made by last year’s CSU executive. “I spoke to the new [SPHR] executive this year and told them it wouldn’t happen this way again.”
Despite repeated requests SPHR could not be reached for comment.
Also questionable were the expenses of the Concordia Model United Nations. The group spent their entire budget, just over $5,200, on three out of town conferences, with most of the money going to pay for flights, hotels and conference fees. Gomes said she asked the group to take steps to become more accessible to Concordia students, such as holding an event at Concordia. Instead the group went on hiatus during the fall semester. Gomes said she was disappointed by the group’s decision.
In an e-mail the group defended their actions. “We made our requisitions under the proper channels and protocols. We make every effort possible to recruit new members, we send out regular e-mails to everyone who has joined, and the executive has even gone to various political science classes to talk about Model UN. As such, we find it difficult to see how we cannot be more direct with students.” According to the e-mail, the group will be resuming activities this month.
Many CSU groups have also spent hundreds of dollars on photocopying. One group, the Art of Living, spent over a third of its roughly $2,000 budget on photocopies. “Photocopying costs have been one of our biggest problems,” said Gomes.
Gomes said she has been making efforts to rectify the errors made by past CSU executives, but that many groups are still requesting the subsidization of recreational activities. One group, the Concordia Canadian Asian Society, requested money for a road trip to New York, a paint ball tournament, white water rafting and horseback riding. The CSU denied most of these requests, but many groups continue the practice.

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