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Switching funds around for a strike

by Jad Abukasm February 19, 2019
Switching funds around for a strike

ASFA to allow associations to re-allocate $200 from budget after funding motion rejected

 

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) rejected a motion that would have granted funding for member associations going or considering going on strike during their council meeting last Thursday.

Council voted ASFA would allow its members to temporarily re-allocate $200 from any budget lines to their strike due to the associated time restriction.

While no funds from the association will be redirected into immediate financial help for its members, ASFA will temporarily loosen its budget rules to let its student associations finance their strikes.

Prior to this council meeting, ASFA’s member associations were required to adhere to their budgets, as approved by the executive team last July. Member associations’ money could not be transferred from one of the five budget lines to another, with the exception of changes approved by council.

ASFA’s decision to not directly fund member associations created significant debate within council. With a slight margin of only two votes for budget handling, member associations will still have measures for funding their strikes, while ASFA can stay mindful of its budget.

The federation’s original stance was that it will support every member association that wants to or is considering going on strike. The original proposal was to create a $2,000 pool with money taken from the Special Project Fund (SPF) from which member associations could ask for funding. Any unused funds would go back into the SPF.

“I think it’s a great initiative,” said Finance Coordinator Gigi Cordeiro, “but we just don’t have the budget anywhere to do this.”

Cordeiro added that although giving member associations resources to organize their strikes is pertinent, ASFA has to consider their financial situation. By looking into ASFA’s spending, Cordeiro discovered a lot of money had not been budgeted. ASFA spent approximately $1,000 on phone lines for member associations, which they didn’t know they had access to. Also, with its ongoing legal files, the federation has had to spend part of its budget on lawyers. Cordeiro said she preferred reevaluating ASFA’s budget before making any financial decisions. This explains why the council voted in favour of budget handling rather than direct funding.

This measure was not supported by all members. Some were seeking direct funding in regards to their student strikes.

“The gap that ASFA could fill was the immediate funding, because strikes move quickly,” said Nicholas Gertler, vice president of internal and external affairs of the COMS Guild. “Requiring that member associations move around funds from, let’s say, social academic events is effectively punishing students that want to go on strike, because you get less events that are going to benefit your community since you decided to go on strike,” said Gertler.

Member associations have the option of applying for the SPF to promote new initiatives. The SPF can be sought for strike funding. However, the urgency of the matter forced ASFA to implement measures to rapidly help members going on strike. The SPF would not have been efficient in this case, but other strike funds are available for member associations.

Some member associations, like the Journalism Student Association (JSA), who voted for striking against unpaid internships, were satisfied by the funding they received from the Concordia Student Union (CSU) strike fund, said Fiona Harrison-Roberts, the JSA councillor. Harrison-Roberts voted against creating a money pool, seconding Cordeiro’s stance on the budget issue.

While Harrison-Roberts granted that the CSU funding process was quite slow, she also agreed it was safer for ASFA to look into its budget before making any financial decisions.

Photo by Jad Abukasm.

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