BUSAC councillors debate internal structure

It was another lengthy BUSAC meeting as councillors debated over various issues until 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 18. Most of the debates centred around underlying structural issues within BUSAC itself and signalled that there may be a few changes coming in the future.

Chris Ventura, speaker of the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council (BUSAC), spoke about the recurring lengthy meetings, which this year have rarely gone under four hours and once even up to six hours.

“This is a historical ongoing issue that’s never been addressed,” said Ventura. “Brock has one of the largest councils; we looked at other schools and the average is between 15 to 25 members. We have double, if not triple, that amount. We’ve also had a really active council and I’m very impressed with the ability some councillors have brought in their very first year.”

BUSAC has 35 voting members as well as an additional 10 non-voting members. One possible suggestion that came up to reduce the length of meetings was to reduce the size of the council.

“I think the idea of an option for decreasing council would be a good one to explore,” said Madi Fuller, Social Science Representative. “When people sign up for BUSAC they should expect long meetings. However, meetings that ran until midnight or later are a bit much.”

“Reducing the size of council would be the most effective. We have a lot of people that repeat what other people say or just don’t talk,” said Calvin Eady, Extra Faculty Representative.

“I think changing BUSAC into a more committee-centered model and giving our committees more power and trusting the individuals we’ve selected will help make BUSAC more efficient and reduce the length of the meetings,” said Istafa Sufi, Faculty of Education representative.

“So far this year, there has not been a single agenda item that has been missed. However, I do believe that the longer meetings go, the less fruitful discussion becomes as councillors begin to get tired,” said Alex Hobbs, Social Science Representative.

Another issue that came in the debates was the current club funding model. As it stands, the Clubs Policy Committee can decide on any funding requests under $800, but anything over must be brought to BUSAC and decided by the councillors. This results in the majority of meetings being taken up by club funding discussions.

“Spending so much time on club funding is a problem. I think major [funding requests] should come to BUSAC but if we streamline the process and give CPC clear guidelines, we can trust them to handle larger club funding requests,” said Eady.

“Part of the reason debates over club funding requests last so long is due to their importance. We’re talking about allocating thousands of dollars from a very limited budget to students groups we know very little about, and assessing their needs and the merits of those needs all in a short time span based on a 15-minute presentation,” said Hobbs.

One of the reasons club funding was a major debate topic at the last meeting was because there is currently just over $20,000, which represents about a third of the initial amount, left in the budget and still over half of the school year to go.

“As much as we want all clubs to get all of their funding, we have to make sure we’re careful about not spending all of the club funding in one go. We have to evenly distribute it so all clubs can [have access to it],” said Fuller.

“It’s on a first come, first serve basis. It does work, I don’t think it would work well any other way but we need to look at how this money is being used,” said Abby Budgeon, Clubs Coordinator of the Clubs Policy Committee.

“I do not think it is BUSAC’s fault or CPC’s fault that the budget is currently so low. If the funds run out, I do not believe it’s because BUSAC or CPC has been in any way irresponsible, it’s because there simply isn’t enough money to cover the needs of these clubs,” said Hobbs.

The budget for club funding is established through a student levy. This amount however, has stayed never been updated. With more and more clubs being founded and coming to request money, the budget is being stretched extremely thin. The budget is no longer able to cover the needs of all the clubs even though most clubs are already receiving amounts of money that are a fair bit lower than their initial requests.

“I’ve seen great new initiatives, ideas and events successfully take place due to the efforts of great new and old clubs. If we wish to support this growth in initiatives and increase diversity in clubs, it may be a good idea to start looking at once again increasing the Clubs Levy through a referendum,” said Sufi.
Ventura spoke about the possibility of changing the club funding model and that, as well as trying to shorten BUSAC meetings, will be the object of discussion for councillors and the Governance Committee in the upcoming events as they evaluate possible solutions.

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