Lately, scraps of fact and fiction regarding discount tabs at the bar and tensions between the BarCo and the UCSA Boards have been floating around campus. But what exactly is the issue? What arguments do both boards have? Or is this simply about taking shots at the bar? No worries, the Boomerang plunged into UCU politics and did some investigating to get you the information you need to vote at the General Assembly.
Discount tabs are not mentioned in the official UCSA documents, the Statutes and the Policy Manual, which makes the matter a proverbial grey area. “Discounts evolved as a tradition, but are not formally part of the Association,” UCSA Chair Noam Auerbach says. Traditionally, BarCo Board members get a full discount on all bar products. A few years ago, the UCSA Board was given a partial discount and this year, the same discount was extended to ASC.
Firstly, full discount tabs would increase the Board’s visibility on campus. “We need to encourage the Board to be in the bar and be a part of social life on campus,” Auerbach says. According to him, each Board member spends a few hours there on one night a week, giving them a presence score of six out of seven. But how many of us go to the bar once a week and pay full price?
Secondly, Auerbach wants to use discount tabs to reward people who work hard for the Association. This includes the BarCo Board, but also the UCSA Board.
The third and main argument is related to the structure of organizations in general. “You don’t see it in any organization that bodies lower in the hierarchy are rewarded to a larger extent than those on top because those on top do more for the Association,” Auerbach says. “The people that have the final responsibility over decisions need to have the final say in them.” This is important for keeping the structure of how things work clear. Here, the main objective of the UCSA should be considered, specified in the Statutes (Art. 3.1): representing the interests of all members. So, is it in the members’ interest to model the UCSA as much after a real-world organization as possible, and is this truly what works best in our microcosm?
The BarCo Board refused to implement this decision. “We decided this because the Policy Manual gives us managerial power over the bar. We’re not denying the UCSA Board anything, but using the power we have been given,” Inventory Manager Jasmine Reggiani says.
So what are their arguments? “There should be a difference in discounts for the BarCo and the UCSA Boards because the UCSA Board already gets other benefits, for example the networking opportunities,” BarCo Chair Willem Mouton says. He also mentions the course load reduction, government subsidies, and the seventh semester. “We find these benefits to be completely justified, but question the addition of yet another,” Secretary Marie Gillesen says. “The tab is our only benefit and it is insulting that they want the same.”
According to her, the extent of discount should be related to what a member does directly for the bar. “Since we do the most, we should have the largest discount.” In line with this, BarCo Treasurer Steven Minke says that full discounts for the UCSA Board have no added value for the Association, whereas discounts for the BarCo Board do, as this encourages them to dedicate more time to the bar. “It is a big issue, because in a very indirect sense, it affects the money of the members,” as the bar makes fewer profits when more people are allowed to drink at buying price. “It would only add to their personal benefits, which, from our point of view, is an abuse of power,” Mouton says.
BarCo Board mentioned another issue: discounts are the only compensation they receive for the twenty hours a week each board member spends on ensuring that the bar runs smoothly. According to Independent Body member Omri Preiss this cannot be used as an official argument, as that would be in conflict with the Policy Manual, Art. 26.3.
With BarCo Board’s refusal, the problem became a matter of implementing UCSA Board decisions. Based on the Statutes Art. 15.2, the UCSA Board has a final say in committee matters. They used this right: BarCo was given a deadline to implement the discount before midterm break, which they complied with.
But both boards realized that to preserve their relationship, a compromise was necessary. Several options were on the table, including full discounts for BarCo Board members and semi-partial-quasi discounts for the UCSA Board, or putting the matter before the members at a GA. The latter was chosen as both considered it best for the Association to find a final solution and formalize it in the Policy Manual, especially since this has been a source of friction in previous years, too.
Now it’s up to the students’ vote to decide. And yet, the outcome depends entirely on what exactly we will be asked to vote on at the GA. The existence of discount tabs in general? Whether there should be different degrees of discount and who is entitled to them? The questions will be specified by the UCSA Board with the help of the IB and the Advisory Council, but according to Preiss, members can suggest agenda points during the approval of the agenda or propose a vote later during the GA. The UCSA Chair can refuse this.
Embracing democracy and all that.
Art. 27.2: The Bar Committee Treasurer or other members of the Bar Committee board may be given specific power of attorney […] for the signing of tab or small sale contracts, at the discretion of the UCSA Board.