This year, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association confronts a projected deficit of $167,000 – double what it was two years ago and the biggest UWSA deficit ever.
“It’s a significant amount and something we are aware of, but we still need to listen to students who have voiced their concerns to me for increased services like a bigger (Orientation)-Week,” said Jason Syvixay, who is in his second term as UWSA president.
The UWSA’s board approved the budget at March’s annual general meeting. With expansions like the daycare, the deficit is expected to climb from $67,000 to $167,000 by the end of this school year.
Tom Brown, business manager for the UWSA, is certain that the organization’s future is not in jeopardy.
“It’s a manageable deficit,” Brown said. “If you look in relativity to our $3.5 million dollar revenue, it’s only four per cent of our operating costs.”
During the 2009/2010 year, the UWSA spent $1.1 million on building and operating its daycare, money previously used for gaining interest.
Without that money and with low national interest rates, this year’s revenue stream is much smaller.
“The daycare was a necessary expenditure,” said Lana Hastings, vice-president of student services for the UWSA. “Working with this deficit is a balancing act between student demands and our financial reality.”
Another contributing factor to the increased UWSA deficit was this year’s switch from providing honorariums to student group co-ordinators to paying them hourly wages.
Funding to all student groups has been cut while the association encourages them to apply for government and private grants to compensate.
To combat the overall shortfall, the UWSA plans to streamline department spending and focus on their retail businesses, like the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) does. They launched advertising hoping to minimize capital losses from Soma Café, Petrified Sole and the Info Booth.
“UMSU owns and operates five businesses and over 35 services at the U of M,” said Heather Laube, UMSU President. “Our businesses generate profits that go back to funding other services that UMSU provides.”
As a result, UMSU runs without a deficit, Laube noted.
James Townsend, professor of economics at the U of W, believes that the UWSA should put the deficit money toward useful programs.
“Running with a deficit is not bad per se if they’re using the money for productive initiatives that will make them better off in the future,” said Townsend.
The deficit is something Syvixay plans to address throughout his second term as president.
“Last year the deficit wasn’t in my mind because it wasn’t something that was going to make or break the organization,” Syvixay said.
“At the board meeting we said this deficit doesn’t show we are accountable to students, which is our job. We’re working on what’s needed in the long term to ensure the UWSA survives.”
To see what your student fees pay for, visit www.theuwsa.com or visit the UWSA in the Bulman Centre for details.
Published in Volume 65, Number 5 of The Uniter (September 30, 2010)