The Quality Money committee is one of the most powerful Students’ Union committees for undergraduate students, which directly “aims to the enhance student experience” through an approximate $1.6 million fund. This past Tuesday, Student Legislative Council voted to keep QM project funding to seek final approval from SLC. Though this is a step in the right direction, if neither party is provided with enough information or proper conventions for voting and debating fairly on projects, this check will not be effective — as it wasn’t last year.
Last April, many projects or initiatives picked by QM for funding were initially rejected by SLC. The premise for this was that many projects picked did not seem to be feasible or appropriate for the amount of funding provided and the quality of these picks would not be effective for enhancing student life.
As someone who served on QM last year as a student-at-large, this was both frustrating and confusing for myself and other student representatives who served on the committee. Right after SLC’s rejection, an emergency meeting was called for QM where I, along with another representative, were hoping to discuss projects that we had put on the back burner. But instead, the rhetoric that SLC does not have the authority to tell QM what to do was emphasized by a strong executive and staff voice and that the committee should not succumb to SLC’s pressures and change the funding list.
With classic SU sass, QM intentionally disregarded SLC’s request and proposed the exact same list of projects to SLC. Under the guise that the projects desperately needed to be funded, the funding was approved where otherwise funds would not have been distributed until the following academic year. For myself, this entire scenario could have been prevented and for this to change, reforms to QM and SLC approval voting for committees needs to reflect the requirement of transparency, reaching non-biased consensus and more than anything representing student interests in these decisions.
Before you think I am about to bash the SU, let me stop you — I have the utmost respect for the past and current members of the SU and admire their work to help students. But their voice and specifically the executives should not count for more. I understand they are required to know more because of the nature of their jobs, but having previous knowledge that no other committee member is privy to should not be the reason to vote for something. In my own experience in QM, debates were specifically centered around executive knowledge and strong opinions whereas listening to all other members was more of a formality.
The committee itself is comprised of five executives, up to three faculty representatives, and two students-at-larges. Increasing the number of students or requirements of a certain number of faculties to be represented would promote diversity in the discussion for projects. Along with this, quorum rules should be changed for both a student-at-large and elected officials to be present along with the standard rule of a minimum three executives. However, having five executives with the absence of other members should not constitute as quorum itself. Clear guidelines should be created for student representatives and students-at-larges as to what their role in the committee is — every member has a duty to the students but only the executives are generally cognisant of theirs. If possible ‘blind voting’ should be considered to prevent non-executives from feeling the need to vote only with executive opinion. A more standardized criterion for applications could also allow for a better understanding of what everyone in the committee is saying.
On the other side, SLC should be provided a bit more information on applications just so they know what they’re voting for. You can’t allow either body to fully do their job without all the information and proper checks in place.
Fifth-year Political Science