USC council meeting budget March 9, 2016

The appointment of the undergraduate student-at-large position on the committee which approves Western's annual ancillary fee, currently $1,423.10, is under review after it was brought up at a USC council meeting in September. 

The Student Services Committee is responsible for the non-tuition related compulsory ancillary fees that fund the services and programs that provide enrichment beyond the academic domain.

At a special council meeting on Sept. 14, chair of the student senators Harry Orbach-Miller and Ivey councillor David DiBrina brought forward an amendment to bring a transparent selection process to the undergraduate student-at-large position on the SSC.

The SSC is comprised of students as the voting members with undergraduate and graduate representation and members of the Western administration who act as non-voting resource members.

Currently, the position of undergraduate student-at-large is filled through an appointment by the USC president, which basically means the president picks a student to sit on the committee for two years without a transparent selection process.

According to University Students’ Council president and chair of SSC Eddy Avila, this committee is a way for students to be in charge of their own ancillary fees and decide on how much the fees are increased or decreased.

The total undergraduate ancillary fees for the 2016-17 school year was $1423.10 and $1372.74 for 2015-16.

The amendment brought forth was to include two specialized committees within the nominating committee, tasked with appointing a student to the SSC and the orientation governance board respectively.

“We thought having a committee would ensure any student would have the opportunity to apply in a public way, and receive fair consideration,” Orbach-Miller said.

As chair of SSC, Avila is responsible for the appointment of the position and he hopes to have the position filled by Nov. 8.

“I’m in the process of finding a student that, I think really speaks to some of that knowledge on student fees and ancillary fees,” he said.

With two undergraduate student-at-large positions, one new person is appointed every year for two-year terms. 

“I think in appointment you can see students who have the relevant experience and often times with application or hiring process only the hyper involved students get to see the application go live,” Avila said.

He said that while making the student-at-large position a hired position is a consideration; the hiring panel should be decently acquainted with the committee.

“Who knows how the process of that one will evolve, but I do think that we should consider that people in my position do have good knowledge to be able to pick someone with relevant experience,” he said.

Since the council meeting, Orbach-Miller has been working with USC secretary-treasurer Isaac Jacobi in finding a solution to the lack of transparency in filling the position.

“I give a lot of credit to this executive for noticing that the transparency and accountability have been a problem,” Orbach-Miller said.

Orbach-Miller is optimistic going forward as he and Jacobi are working on a motion that they hope to bring to council in December or January.

“The whole idea was that we wanted something that allowed students the opportunity to apply, we wanted it to be a fair process, we want it to make sure it would engage students beyond the people USC usually engages,” Orbach-Miller added. 

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