By Sean Willett, July 12 2017 —
Quality Money applications will now be approved by the Students’ Union’s Quality Money Committee (QMC) instead of the Students’ Legislative Council. This amendment to the Quality Money Terms of Reference, along with a change to in-camera meeting policy, was approved during the July 4 SLC meeting.
Quality Money is a partnership between the SU and the University of Calgary. The U of C Board of Governors provides about $1.6 million each year to the SU, which the SU distributes among student- and faculty-submitted projects aimed at improving the university campus.
In the past, Quality Money submissions were reviewed and evaluated by the QMC before being presented to SLC for final approval. The newest amendment to the Quality Money ToR changes this, giving the QMC the final say on which projects will receive funding. While SLC will still be involved in the deliberation process, the council will no longer cast a deciding vote.
“The issue we’ve had in the past is that SLC, in the end, was effectively a rubber-stamping body for the QMC’s recommendations,” said SU president Branden Cave, who also chairs the QMC. “The committee would sit for five months discussing these projects and would have all the details, all the background knowledge and access to all of the SU’s institutional memory. So we wanted to give the ability to approve projects to the people who have the proper information while also giving SLC more of a chance to provide their faculty-specific input into the process.”
To allow for more input into the Quality Money decision process by SLC members, the QMC’s reporting system was also modified. Before this amendment, SLC was only informed of the QMC’s recommended projects at the time of the final approval vote.
“The QMC would go cloister themselves, then after five months they would come out and say, ‘Here are our recommendations,’” Cave said. “There was very little background information and no details on the discussions had by the committee.”
With the new amendment, QMC reports to SLC will now require details on the specific projects being considered by the committee along with a justification for how these projects align with the SU’s selection criteria. Cave hopes that these changes will encourage SLC members to become more involved with the Quality Money selection process.
“My major philosophy is that you can respect the outcome of a process far greater if you are involved in that process throughout, and SLC never really felt like they had the same amount of input in the Quality Money process,” he said. “If a member of SLC has concerns with a project, rather than have them fight it at the end after the committee has made their recommendation, those concerns can now be dealt with sooner.”
SLC meeting procedure was also amended during the July 4 session to clarify rules surrounding in-camera sessions. Normally, only members of SLC are allowed to be present when SLC is in-camera, but a new section was added to clarify that SLC is allowed to invite “expert guests” into these sessions.
“Experts could be anything, from legal associates who are external to the SU to SU staff who can brief SLC on complaints they’ve received,” said SU vice-president operations and finance Ryan Wallace. “It’s to make sure that SLC is able to get better information in their meetings.”
While SLC was technically allowed to invite guests into in-camera sessions before this amendment, SU policy on the topic was ambiguous. Wallace explains that this amendment will help clarify this procedure and increase operational transparency.
“Transparency goes beyond what’s written in the bylaw. Our bylaw is very clear in what it says, but there are some areas that can be a little grey,” Wallace said. “We need to make sure the bylaw is as black and white as possible so there isn’t room for interpretive error. This makes it so SLC is aware of exactly what they can and can’t do, and helps make us as transparent as possible.”