By Scott Strasser, April 5 2015 —
After nearly an hour of heated debate, Students’ Legislative Council voted in favour of a resolution to approve 19 Quality Money grants at their meeting on April 5 — the same 19 grants they voted down the week before.
The vote passed in secret ballot, with 15 members voting for the grants and five voting against them.
Students’ Union arts representative Jen Tokarek called the lack of changes to the resolution “a slap in the face.”
“I felt like I wasn’t being listened to. I know it’s based on processes, but it doesn’t sit with me at all,” Tokarek said during the meeting.
The Quality Money program is a partnership between the university and the SU that distributes roughly $1.6 million per year to “projects that will enhance the overall student experience.”
At their meeting on March 29, SLC voted down the identical resolution by a margin of 10 to six with one abstention. Members had issues with the’ effectiveness of the projects.
Proposals of concern included $40,100 to upgrade the Students of the Arts and Sciences Honours Academy lounge and the $341,000 to upgrade Campus Security’s emergency app. Some SLC members also questioned the practicality of a project called “The Purple Bench,” a $3,780 bench meant to create a “safe space” on campus to meet with friends and strangers.
After their recommendations were voted down on March 29, Quality Money committee — the committee responsible for assessing projects and recommending them for approval — met on April 1 to reassess their list.
But the committee made no changes to their list.
Vice-president student life Kirsty McGowan encouraged council members to vote in favour of the resolution on April 5, emphasizing that Quality Money funding is “not SU money, but the university’s money.”
“It is a privilege — not a right — that we get to tell them how we think we should spend it,” McGowan said during the meeting.
McGowan cited the months of deliberation that had gone into the recommendations.
“The committee felt that having access to the full applications, following our own processes and being designated authority by SLC that we would recommend the list we felt was best,” McGowan said. “We stuck by our decisions that we spent four months making.”
According to McGowan, if the vote on April 5 had not passed, the current council wouldn’t be able to decide Quality Money distribution. This could potentially jeopardize the SU’s relationship with the university concerning the program’s future.
“If they are not approved, it is highly likely that SLC will not make Quality Money recommendations this year,” McGowan said before the voting took place. “If we do not spend [this money], it won’t be spent. And projects that could benefit students will not happen.”
Haskayne School of Business representative Conrad Lowe was the most vocal opponent of the resolution.
“I find it exceedingly disappointing that Quality Money Committee has returned an unchanged recommendations list when the vast majority of students on council last week voiced their concerns and then voted these down,” Lowe said during the meeting. “It is clear that Quality Money committee listened to the concerns of students, chose not to reevaluate any of the recommendations [and then] sent them back with an ultimatum that forces us into rubber stamping.”
The list of recommendations will now go to the U of C’s Board of Governors for final approval. The money for the approved projects will be distributed through the summer.
According to McGowan, the SU will soon be entering negotiations with the university regarding a three-year extension to the Quality Money program.
Both McGowan and Lowe both declined to comment following the meeting.