Op-Ed

The SFUO has some significant problems in the year ahead. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.

These are the important problems facing the SFUO going into next year

Whether you’re reading this before or after the 2017 student federation election, which runs from Feb. 8 to 10, you still need to know what big issues are at stake and how they affect you.

Your money, your experience

As a student you pay the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) money every year, so it’s in your best interest to make the most of it.

When no one is paying attention, swathes of money can be mismanaged and even disappear. This is why, after issues with the student health plan budget, the SFUO had to cut funding for all sorts of programs, events, and services that are aimed at bettering the student experience. This means less money for big events like 101 Week, as well as important services like the Women’s Resource Centre, Pride Centre, or Centre for Students with Disabilities.

There have also been troubling signs this year. Various reports by the SFUO’s comptroller general have taken issue with how some executives are spending their time and money. The reports detail actions such as taking free food from Pivik in past years and giving themselves a discount this year, spending a significant amount of money on taxi chits, and missing their allotted work hours.

Student businesses

Do you enjoy grabbing a drink at 1848, or downing some coffee at Café Alt? Well, both of those businesses have seen lots of problems this year. Reports by members of the SFUO at Board of Administration (BOA) meetings have told stories of expensive equipment breaking and problems with staffing both employees and managers, with both having to share the same manager for a time. There have also been weeks when the businesses just didn’t open when they were supposed to.

While their budgets aren’t made public by the SFUO, the above factors, combined with the SFUO’s financial problems from last year, don’t bode well for businesses if things continue as they are.

Clubs

If you’re a student at the U of O, chances are you’re involved in one club or another. If so, you know how fun and beneficial clubs can be—if run properly.

This year, the SFUO has cut its funding for clubs almost completely. But there’s no guarantee things will improve once money starts coming in again. Even in past years where funding was given many clubs reported issues, with a byzantine system for application approval, as well as slow payments and restrictive funding requirements.

Even with the help of a clubs coordinator—a position that remains unfilled due to lack of money—many clubs said they could not contact the SFUO reliably.

While it’s easy to wallow in apathy when these issues are laid out in front of you, it’s best to resist that impulse. Instead, you should use these problems to motivate yourself into helping make this school’s student experience better for  everyone. Taking part in General Assemblies, BOA meetings, and elections will take up a relatively small amount of your time, and are an easy way to start fixing these problems.