DAAC a dying breed

Dinos Athletics may just have to run on their own steam if the Students’ Union has its way.

The Dinos Athletic Advisory Council was formed in Oct. 1999 in response to a failed plebiscite to raise students’ Interuniversity Athletic fees. Since then, DAAC has attempted to make recommendations on the needs of athletics at the University of Calgary.

"The primary reason for DAAC was to have a variety of stakeholders review policy procedures within Dinos Athletics," said Don Wilson, Director of Athletics and DAAC founder. "It looks at everything having to do with athletics."

The council’s work, however, was stunted by conflicts with the SU. While the SU initially approved DAAC, it withdrew support from the group in April 2000, rendering it defunct, as student representation is required on every university committee pertaining to student issues.

"[DAAC] has been an issue for the past two years," said SU Vice-President Events Chris Kerr. "Now it has reached the boiling point and we’re dealing with it."

After a period of dormancy within DAAC, the SLC acted by passing a motion to pursue the dissolution of the committee on Jan. 29, 2002.

"There were a variety of issues we had with DAAC’s Terms of Reference," explained Kerr. "We had problems with the Dean’s veto over the entire committee, problems with representation [with non-students voting on student fees]."

SU policy dictates that all proposed student fee changes must be brought to referendum before being recommended to the Planning and Finance Committee and the Board of Governors, who give final approval. Wilson said that referendum is an unnecessary burden.

"The referendum process as it stands is untimely, since it happens in March while we start the budgeting process in September," Wilson said before receiving notice of the SLC’s decision. "The DAAC was set up to review in detail fee increases and decreases. I believe this is much more effective way of dealing with the issues than referendum."

DAAC had undergone structural changes to appease some SLC concerns, including removing two coaches from the voting membership to create a student majority on the council. However, problems remained.

"DAAC deals primarily with a university fee, and any recommendation could be put forth to the Dean, then to the PFC and the [BoG]," said Kerr. "If we have a plebiscite, it means nothing, because it’s not binding. The committee exists solely to solicit input and the power is ultimately still in the hands of the Dean."

"[The SU] felt there was a conflict of interest with the members of the committee, although they had fully endorsed it initially," countered Wilson. "It’s my understanding that in most cases, [the veto of the Dean] is standard practice. All recommendations, and these are only recommendations, can be accepted or rejected by the Dean."

Kerr admitted it was a mistake for the SLC to approve of DAAC initially, but still made his objection to the council clear.

"It’s an issue that affects every student, every student should have a say on whether Dinos Athletics needs more money," he concluded. "If every student has to pay the fee, then every student should have input. It’s not a problem we have with athletics or with [Wilson] or anything else, just a fundamental problem we see with DAAC’s structure and similar committees."

"I’m greatly disappointed in [the SU’s] response," said Wilson after learning of the Jan. 29 decision, declining further comment. "I have always been open and flexible to the needs and the desires of the SU. They have dragged this out for two years and I wish they had done this earlier."

Even at this point, DAAC’s future is still up in the air.

"I’m not sure how we’ll go about [dissolving DAAC] at this point," said Kerr. "The ball is in Kinesiology’s court. If nothing is done with DAAC, then no action will be necessary. We will see what happens."

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