The University College (UC) Orientation deficit of $10,000 is raising questions among University College Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit) members as to how to prevent future instances of financial mismanagement.
The deficit in large part arose from a previously-lost invoice for $7,200 worth of breakfasts. This deficit reduced the UC Lit’s contingency fund from 12 per cent to 2 per cent and forced the council to re-budget in order to refill the fund.
UC Orientation, which is an ancillary service of the UC Lit, initially went over-budget by $2,000; this was resolved at a December 8, 2016 council meeting by reducing the contingency fund from $12,000 to $10,000.
A $7,200 invoice found by Ramsey Andary, President of the UC Lit, in addition to another $800 in expenses, led to the contingency fund being brought down to $2,000, or 2 per cent of the UC Lit’s budget.
At the January 15, 2017 meeting of the UC Lit, council had to re-budget in order to bring the contingency fund back to 12 per cent. According to UC Lit Finance Commissioner Snow Mei, a total of $9,710 was moved to contingency, with budget cuts affecting events such as the All-Night Fung, the Spring Pub Crawl, and the Awards Banquet, among others.
Andary told The Varsity that “the deficit was resolved by making compromises within various Lit events.” The public will be able to view the specific line items that were altered after the minutes from the UC Lit’s meeting on January 15 are published.
Melinda Scott, the Dean of Students at University College, told The Varsity that she has “met with members of the Core Executive to discuss the situation and our Student Life Coordinator was in attendance at Sunday’s meeting.”
Scott made it clear that her office is there to support the UC Lit, but that ultimately they are an independent body.
“We are always available to members of the Council for advice or support. However, as an independent, incorporated student society – the UCLit has responsibility for the oversight of its budget,” she said.
In addition to the issue of financial mismanagement, this year’s Orientation Co-Chairs, Abby Godden and Julia Davis, breached council policy on how they were supposed to be paid their $6,000 honoraria.
Twenty per cent of the honoraria is supposed to be withheld until after a full written report and a financial audit of UC Orientation is presented to the council. This is required under chapter six, section two, subsection E of the UC Lit’s Council Policies for the funds to be released.
Godden and Davis signed off on their own cheques for the remainder of their honoraria, at a time when a full written report and a financial audit had not yet been presented to the council.
There had been some questions in 2016 as to whether or not a financial arrangement between the Office of the Dean of Students and UC Orientation should be ended to remove conflicts between the two bodies. Ultimately, it was not. Godden was in favour of removing the role of the office from UC Orientation.
Scott says that she does “not believe that additional funding provided by [her] office was the cause of any conflict with the Orientation Coordinators.”
Andary responded to whether or not the Co-Chairs will face repercussions but failed to address what the consequences are for breaching Council Policy: “The Orientation Co-Chairs are no longer employed by the UC Lit and the council will not be taking punitive action against previous staff members.”
He went on to say that the UC Lit appreciates the hard work the Co-Chairs did in delivering a successful orientation week overall.
Scott says that she does not “believe that the remuneration for future Orientation Coordinators should be compromised based on our experience this year.”
Moving forward, both the Office of the Dean of Students and the UC Lit are making changes to ensure that problems like the discovered deficit do not happen in the future.
“The UC Lit will be focusing on placing better measures to support the Orientation team’s financial management as well as prevent the breaking of policies for upcoming years,” Andary said.
Scott explained, “In an effort to ensure a positive working relationship moving forward, we are in the final stages of developing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the UCLit which will establish the expectations of the UCLit, UC Orientation Coordinators, and the Office of the Dean of Students with regard to the planning and implementation of future Orientation programs.”
Andary said that the core executive, comprised of the President, Vice President, and Finance Commissioner “is working to complete the internal audit as soon as it can while also ensuring the audit is done as thoroughly as possible. We cannot provide a date as of yet.”
At press time, Godden and Davis had not responded to The Varsity’s request for comment.
The line items affected
|All Night Fung||$1,500|
|Rep Initiative Fund||$400|
|Spring University College Pub Crawl||$250|
|Hart House Farm Retreat||$1,050|
|Active Fun University College Off-Campus Commission Event||$200|
|Spiritwear and Promotions||$2,350|