Opinions

Give me change instead of cash. Photo: Rame Abdulkader.

Why we shouldn’t demand a refund from the SFUO

The full-time undergraduate fall payment to the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) for this school year was $106.64 per student. If you multiply that by 35,490 (the number of undergraduate full-time students enrolled in Fall 2016) you get 3,784,653.60. We gave the SFUO almost four million dollars for this semester. This doesn’t include the part-time students, and this isn’t for any of the services they provide, which are calculated as separate incidental fees, even though the SFUO facilitates these services.

Think of the scandal that has occurred just this semester, of the ongoing investigation, of the termination of the contract by the university. Essentially, the full-time undergraduate students paid the SFUO $4 million to get terminated. This is enough for some, including my close friends, to want to get their money back, to demand a refund.

I understand the logic behind this, I do. I’m broke, and that money could help me cover the cost of half a textbook, or maybe a couple of coursepacks. However, demanding a refund is distracting from the real issue and the change that needs to occur. Demanding a hundred dollars back doesn’t remotely make up for all of the deceit, the fraud, the scandal.

In theory, some of that money is supposed to be going to funding clubs on campus, although their stringent rules around getting funding has restricted the amount distributed, if it’s been given out at all.

I would reach out to the SFUO to get comment, but as we all know transparency isn’t really their thing. I’m guessing it’s supposed to also go towards the student-run businesses (the U-Pass, student services, health plan, and career centre fees are collected separately). This would mean it’s already been paid out, and requesting our money back will likely come from the university itself, meaning it won’t have a real effect on the SFUO.

A hundred dollars from the university won’t make up for anything. Instead, we should be doing what the Board of Administration should have been doing this entire time, what the university finally did, and that’s holding them accountable.

In the statement released after the university announced the termination of the contract, the SFUO claimed they’ll still be operating as normal, and will look to make a new agreement with the university soon. Depending on how you feel about the SFUO, whether it should be completely cleared out or just changed for the better, we need to remember that they have our money, at least for this semester, and as a result, should be acting like it. Which means that instead of asking for a refund, we need to continue to hold them accountable for the lack of transparency, communication and embarrassment they’ve caused.