Student fed requires more staff, consultations to improve current situation
The University of Ottawa’s clubs week, where campus clubs set up booths in hopes of attracting new recruits, officially wrapped up on Friday, Sept. 16.
While it was a fun and informative week, it’s still hard to forget that things will be a little different for campus clubs this year, ever since the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) announced they will not be able to provide their normal level of funding.
The SFUO’s vice-president equity Morissa Ellis spoke at the recent Board of Administration (BOA) meeting about opening up discussion with clubs and setting up a plan to help them adapt to the new situation this year.
This is a good step, but it’s also important that the SFUO reforms how it deals with clubs in the years following as well. Even before this whole funding debacle happened, there have been issues with how clubs have been managed by the SFUO.
Last year, club members complained that their money was processed late, that they couldn’t contact the SFUO reliably, and that regulations about how club money could be spent were slowing them down, among other things.
Now that we’ve found out what doesn’t work, it’s the perfect time to make structural changes to their clubs policy.
The first step is revamping how the SFUO manages clubs, which could be accomplished by simply opening up a direct line of communication between club presidents and the vice-president equity to hear any other problems they have experienced.
SFUO clubs consultations should focus on pressing club issues that can make an impact next year, especially when clubs can get funding again.
Hiring more staff to manage clubs would also be a welcome change, as in recent years there have only been two people in charge of running the clubs—the vice-president equity and the clubs coordinator.
The vice-president equity already has a lot of responsibilities on their plate without clubs management—they oversee SFUO services, work to ensure equity on campus, and have to deal with day to day operations of the student federation.
With all the work required to handle clubs—registering the over 250 clubs on campus, figuring out payment and registration, handling complaints, and more—the SFUO needs increased staff in this area. This seems like a tough ask given recent staffing cuts, but the goal here is to build a sustainable plan for the future, and a growth in staff is absolutely necessary in coming years.
It’s also important for the SFUO to re-examine current club funding regulations. For example, clubs are currently not allowed to spend money on physical assets or gear, which for some clubs, like the rock climbing club, has not been an efficient setup.
At the end of the day, the reason why so many students on campus participate in clubs is because they help people connect, have fun, and create opportunities for themselves. Clubs are an integral part of the university experience, and this is why the SFUO cannot settle for poorly managed clubs going forward.