Lack of communication between SFUO and club executives raises concerns

Due to austerity measures taken by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) this year, the over 175 clubs on campus will not be receiving any funding from the federation. 

On Aug. 18, Ina Lazarescu, a U of O student and executive of the Romanian Students Club, submitted a letter to the Fulcrum explaining that, upon hearing the news that they would receive no funding, she felt “left in the dark.”

She closed the letter saying, “Today, and for the first time ever, I truly felt that the SFUO Does Not Represent Me.”

While Lazarescu expressed her understanding of the SFUO’s financial situation, her main concern was a long-term lack of communication between the student executive and the clubs on campus.

“My argument was that we could have been informed, we could have done something about it, had we been told,” Lazarescu said in a recent interview with the Fulcrum.

Lazarescu said that besides failing to maintain open communication with club executives, the SFUO did not keep the clubs page of their website updated, leading to even more questions.

Now, Lazarescu is uncertain of what the SFUO will do to amend her situation.

“I’m not sure that they are doing everything that they can to be honest, because as I pointed out in my post, the SFUO clubs page has not been updated in many years. It’s been left neglected,” she said.

“I’m not saying that they are not trying, I’m just not sure what it is that they are trying to do.”

Campus clubs originally received $1,500 in funding per year, but during the 2015-16 school year this number was increased to $2,000 per club per year. 

Lazarescu is now uncertain about the future of her club—if it will continue to operate solely on fundraisers, or shut down entirely.

“Right now, personally, I’m faced with the decision of whether my club is going to go on for the eighth year in a row or not.”

In a statement to the Fulcrum, SFUO vice-president of services and communications, Francesco Caruso, said, “Cutting club subsidies for this year was not an easy decision, however in order to ensure that the federation remains financially sustainable, it was necessary.”

Caruso highlighted that the student federation “recognizes the importance of clubs on campus and their contributions to student life, and understands that clubs require support from their federation.”

While the SFUO cannot support clubs financially this year, they have said that they will offer any other support that they can, as highlighted in the statement.

In regards to Lazarescu’s concerns over a lack of communication, Caruso confirmed that club executives received a survey in which they could provide feedback on what other means of support they would like from the SFUO, such as room bookings, communications, and event planning.

“We’re also currently in negotiation with the university’s administration in order to reach a better solution in terms of room bookings for our clubs and campus groups, and will provide updates as they come,” said Caruso.

Moving forward, Lazarescu believes that the SFUO requires a clubs representative who can speak on the needs of club executives, and the importance of clubs themselves. For her, this is especially true given the cuts to positions that took place over the summer.

“I hope that it gets out there and that people feel for us, and then together with the SFUO we could come to a more reasonable resolution to this.”