What a welcome costs: $110 MacPass fee spending released

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In the midst of second semester, summer might be the furthest thing from students’ minds. But the MSU and its partners are looking even further ahead: to Welcome Week.

As faculty societies begin to gear up for another year of planning for the incoming first-years, the Student Success Centre (SSC) and the MSU, as part of the Welcome Week Review subcommittee of the Student Services Committee, have just compiled their financial report from Welcome Week 2012.

The report comes in the wake of last year’s changes to orientation fees. In the past, incoming first-years had to register and pay for a MacPass, allowing them entry for the week’s events; they no longer have to, and are instead automatically charged fees.

In a campaign led by then-MSU president Matt Dillon-Leitch, the 2012 annual general assembly met its quorum of three percent of the student body for the first time in 17 years. Because it had the required 601 students, all votes passed were binding. And the students chose to implement the $110 mandatory fee for Welcome Week for new first-years.

The aim was to create a system with a widely bought but reasonably priced pass in order to have a “bigger and better” Welcome Week.

But despite the ample cash and months for all of the parties to report back, the finances remain unclear.

“This is our first year of developing what this consolidated financial report is,” explained Gina Robinson, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Student Success Centre.

But David Campbell, MSU VP (Administration), added that of the current breakdown, “we didn’t find any drastic areas that are way off.”

The $110 spent by each student is split between the MSU, the Student Success Centre, off-campus residence life, swag and miscellaneous merchandise, and the nine different faculties.

Campbell noted that there was some chance a “few dollars here and there” might be shifted from one division to another, but that the total value of the levy would stay consistent, potentially being indexed to CPI.

Although the breakdown was good, Campbell and Robinson explained that the reports sent to them from the faculty societies were far from consistent.

“Some of the statements weren’t really well put together,” said Robinson. “They didn’t always add [up] properly.”

Each faculty received $11 per student, but most supplemented this basic fee with additional money from their faculty societies.

“There were some faculties we had to go back to and ask for a second round of reporting, but there were no major [discrepancies],” Campbell said. “There’s nobody we suspect that egregiously misspent.”

He elaborated by saying that the faculties had no real guidelines for determining what constituted a Welcome Week expense.

Things like summer rep training or post-Welcome Week rep appreciation create some ambiguity when it comes to budgeting and reporting. And certain expenditures, like last-minute rain locations for faculty day, have resulted in misrepresented budgets and false deficits.

With this in mind, the faculty expenditures will be confirmed, said Campbell, but he didn’t expect the differences determined from clearing up ambiguity to amount to a lot of money.

Both Robinson and Campbell described their new roles as “gatekeepers” for the faculty finances, which are compiled and streamlined by the Office of Student Affairs for the first time this year.

“I feel really good about it because that way we can account to the student body exactly,” Robinson said.

The MSU and the Student Success Centre, like the faculties, received funds from the guaranteed sale of MacPasses to all first years.

The MSU and its divisions of Avtek and Campus Events are responsible for putting on Welcome Week concerts; this year, the performances by the Sheepdogs and Steve Angello cost roughly $40,000 and $50,000 respectively, including production costs, making them some of the biggest concerts Welcome Week has ever seen.

Meanwhile, the Student Success Centre offered a range of programming similar to what it has in past years, including $16000 spent on the Summer reading Program and $10,000 spent on the IRIS theatre production. It also funded the off-campus students’ Sunday night social, spending $7,000 as part of their goal to expand programming for off-campus students.

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