Collective Funding once again on table at BUSU AGM

Several issues were on the table at the Brandon University Students’ Union (BUSU) annual general meeting last Tuesday. One of the major changes that passed was the redistribution of collective funding.

The Brandon University Aboriginal Student Council (BUASC), LGBTTQ* Collective, and the Women’s Collective will now receive $2,000 in dedicated funding each year. Previously, the Women’s Collective was allocated $5,000, the LGBTTQ* Collective received $2,000, and BUASC received nothing.

BUSU President Carissa Taylor explains that a number of years ago, funding for BUASC was cut. But with the work the group has been doing, Taylor says they undoubtedly deserved funding. “They are a group on campus that is marginalized, [and] they fit in with the way we see collectives – as marginalized groups that need support.”

“We didn’t bring it up at the last AGM because we felt that it was important to make sure that we had those representatives there, to be able to speak,” says Taylor. She adds it was important for students to hear about the issues from the collectives themselves.

BUASC Vice Presidents Adrienne Thomas and Toni Bouchey were both thrilled to receive funding. “As a collective we were very excited to receive dedicated funding. BUASC has had dedicated funding in previous years and we excited to be receiving it once again as it will help us with the events and programs we host.”

They both stressed the importance of Aboriginal students (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) having a voice on campus. BUASC also provides support, resources and cultural enrichment. Additionally, they operate an outreach program for at-risk Aboriginal youth in the greater Brandon community.

Bouchey and Thomas note the funding will be used for events hosted by the Indigenous People’s Centre (IPC), including craft and activity nights, as well as potlucks. Funding will also go towards some of BUASC’s major annual cultural events, such as their Graduation Pow-wow, Elders’ Gathering, and a Round Dance.

“We do not only service Aboriginal students but also strive to educate non-Aboriginal students on aboriginal issues. The IPC and BUASC events are open to all Brandon University students, faculty, alumni, and community members.”

At the same time as BUASC received additional funding, the Women’s Collective lost 60% of their budget for the current year, seeing their funding drop from $5,000 to $2,000. At the time of writing, no member of the Women’s Collective was available for comment. However, at the AGM, numerous collective members, including President Sarah Tomchak, spoke strongly of the services and programming the Women’s Collective provides. This including events such as Take Back the Night, the Vigil for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, International Women’s Day, and many more.

Taylor says questions had been raised as to why one collective was getting so much more than the others. She recognizes that the Women’s Collective serves the largest group on campus, but at the same time says that in the past, they were not using all of their allocated funding. “The hard part is, this year’s Women’s Collective is wanting to do a lot more, so they have to scale back from the things they were planning on doing.”

She says while BUSU would love to give them more, it is not possible with their current budget. Taylor adds there is a chance in the future that funding could be increased once again, if a strong need is demonstrated, and students believe it is necessary.

Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 15, December 11, 2012.