Collective Funding under the Microscope

Students in attendance at the latest AGM witnessed BUSU propose a $3,000 cut to the Women’s Collective funding. Although the by-law affecting collective funding was not successfully changed at the AGM, the Women’s Collective only received the amount proposed by the altered by-law, not what the by-law currently states. One reason for this cut is that, according to BUSU, the collective hasn’t used more than $2,000 in previous years. Another is the introduction of a new collective, the Aboriginal Students Collective, which, along with the LGBTTQ* Collective, will receive $2,000 annually. The collectives provide resources and support for marginalized groups and minorities.

“The Women’s Collective has not been fully utilizing its resources in past years, and we’re trying to change that this year,” Sarah Tomchak, the new chairperson for the Women’s Collectivesays. “I’ve learned that it could do so much more for women on-campus and off-campus.”

The collective now offers regular office hours complete with computer access, a modest library of gender and women’s studies textbooks (including the ones used in classes).  They also give away free tampons, pads, and emergency pregnancy tests. The collective also sells the Diva Cup, the environmentally-conscious menstrual product, for the lowest price in Brandon. In the future the collective will be hosting monthly ‘fun nights’, open to all students, as well as movie nights, craft nights, and self-defence classes. The collective entertain several events: Take Back the Night, December 6th Vigil, Women’s Day, Women’s Week, and visiting guest speakers. Off campus, the collective will begin volunteering at local women’s shelters and perhaps Girl Guides. Thomchak adds, “With our monthly events and supplies for the resource centre, costs may grow for the collective […]we are making changes to the collective and what it provides for students. We want to do more.”

She adds, “In regard to funding being cut by $3,000 for the Women’s Collective, I understand that the money is being used to fund new clubs and the ASC. My feelings on this is that BUSU, having some of the highest student union rates in Canada, should be able to cover these new costs. However, that not being the case, the collective may have to make some budget adjustments to allot for smaller funding next year so that these new clubs and collective can have their chance to help students. However, I do not think that the Collective will be able to do all it can for students on only $2,000 a year. From the several budgets we have come up with, I think that we could work with $3,000 a year.”

When Carissa Taylor, president of BUSU, was asked to comment on the funding cut, she had this to say, “One of the ways that BUSU is best able to reach out to students is through the funding of student groups and collectives on campus. With the Aboriginal Student Council wishing to also be included as a collective, BUSU was forced to look at current collective funding in order to come up with a sustainable solution. If any of these clubs can demonstrate a need for more money than the current motion allows, students can decide to make that change. It’s most fair to start from a position of equality, as these groups all serve students with special interests at BU.”

There has been some looming interest in cutting the dedicated funding altogether. “If this does come up at the AGM,” Thomchak says, “I ask that students vote in favour of dedicated funding because it is vital to keeping these resources available to marginalized students and improving students university experience.”

Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 13, November 27, 2012.