Finances and the UCSA Board

UCSA/ASC Column

By Annerijn Vink

This year’s first GA approved the UCSA budget in an exceptionally long session, but how much do we know about the UCSA Board’s motivations behind it? A few rumours about this are circulating campus.

Even though we all agree on how professional looking the new website is, most students think €4,000 is a lot of money to brush up the old one. What seems to sting most is that no one consulted the students. Granted, according to the Policy Manual the Treasurer does not have to ask for permission and only has to ‘notify’ the student body through email or at the GA when he or she spends more than €2,500. However, returning to campus to find out that the UCSA just spent a few thousand Euros on a new website creates a feeling that things have been decided over our heads. The point is not that many of us would st
rongly disagree with the expenditure, but that it was not put across beforehand.This lack of communication is an interesting paradox, because one of the aims of the website is to improve transparency and approachability.

Another criticism heard through the grapevine is that the UCSA had to cut their budget because they failed to request a College Hall subsidy on time. Again, it was unclear to many students why the subsidy was cut down. Treasurer Nina de Gruijter explains that “College Hall sometimes listens to rumours and they thought we had a lot of savings, which is why they decided to cut on our subsidy.” Probably, if College Hall had received more information, they would have known the UCSA really needs the money.

Judgments on the Board’s performance are easily made. However, has the UCSA Board really done such a bad job on these issues?

According to Nina, the hired website builders were not only the best, but also the cheapest offer. As UC alumni, they knew what the ‘feeling of the website’ should be and were willing to give the UCSA a discount. Most board members had mentioned a new website in their election statements in order to improve transparency and clarity, so somehow, this expenditure was to be expected. Besides, because the website building had to be done in summer, the only possibility was to inform the student body afterwards, during the fall semester.

And the subsidy? Thanks to unclarity from both sides, we now receive €5,000 less from College Hall than we did before.  Surprisingly though, according to Nina, this Board is handing over a balance sheet to College Hall whereas previous boards did not. So after all, it looks like the present UCSA board is actually coping quite well with financial challenges.

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