Board Shorts — April 23, 2021

The Board is presented with a draft budget for 2021/22 and discuss funding an office to support international students

Image: Irene Lo

Written by Jaymee Salisi, News Writer 

2021/22 financial budget proposal

Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) vice-president (VP) finance Corbett Gildersleve brought forward a budget draft for the 2021/22 fiscal year for approval. 

Income from student enrolment and commercial tenants within SFU buildings are estimated to be roughly $3,170,000 in general revenue, according to Gildersleve. 

Expenses are projected to be approximately $3,130,000 as COVID-19 caused a decrease in the cost of events and activities.

Gildersleve said he planned for potential cost changes as collective agreement bargaining is ongoing. The bargaining process covers staff wages and benefits for the new Council, which affects the SFSS budget.

By removing redundant costs and reducing the administrative team “from six people to three,” the SFSS saved $400,000 in comparison to last year’s budget. These funds were shifted to support the cost of new staff, three new departments, and reserved for potential governance changes in the future.

The new departments include the Black Student Support Office, Accessibility Centre, and Student Advocate Office. The SFSS will fund full-time coordinators in these offices as well as program supplies.

To support these departments, Gildersleve said the SFSS “put aside $10,000 for programming initiatives.” Once staff are hired, they will establish the office’s needs and gather supplies accordingly.

An additional $35,000 was set aside to provide small stipends for non-executive students doing valuable work within their committees. The funds could be distributed among 20 committees, allocating $30 per meeting. 

“I think it’s important that we respect the labour of the students at large on these committees [ . . . ] This is a small token of thank you and I hope this becomes the standard for us,” Gildersleve said.

Gildersleve said the 2021/22 budgeting process has been prolonged due to COVID-19, finances associated with the SUB, and ongoing bargaining.

With consideration for incoming executives and potential for expenses to change, Gildersleve said this budget summary is a recommendation which will be finalized by the new Council in the summer term.

The motion to approve the preliminary budget was carried unanimously. 

International student advocacy office

VP external relations Samad Raza raised concerns regarding the challenges international students face such as immigration, higher tuition, and medical fees in comparison to domestic students. 

To support international students, Raza brought forward a motion for the SFSS to endorse a proposal written by the Graduate Student Society “to establish an International Student Advocacy Office in Greater Vancouver.” 

Raza recommended the SFSS make a one-time contribution of $1,000 to the initiative. This would be used to hire part-time staff to raise funds for the office and work as its founding committee for four months. 

In collaboration with the Migrant Student Union, the office will support international students through:

  • The operation of a hotline that provides international students with legal advice and direct assistance
  • On-campus informational presentations
  • Creating campus committees to identify advocacy priorities and ways to accommodate international students
  • Running advocacy campaigns on behalf of international students at municipal, provincial, and federal levels

The office would provide individual and collective support for international students in Greater Vancouver. Graduate Student Societies from institutions including UBC, Douglas College, and Capilano University have also expressed interest in this idea, according to Raza. 

“We will act as a founding member, we will have a seat at the table, and a voice to represent our students,” Raza said.

At-large representative Balqees Jama expressed her support for the motion, “We need a cross-student union advocacy hub and I think this is one step towards that.”

The motion was carried unanimously with plans to discuss further financial details in late May 2021.