By Toby White
Student representatives on the University of Calgary Senate have a beef with the university’s accounting practices. All members of the senate and Board of Governors receive universal parking passes in return for their services to campus. While the passes do not directly cost the university, they must be accounted for in the budget. Student passes are placed in a different expense line than other senators’, however.
“Student passes are funded directly out of the senate/board budgets, whereas other senators and governors have the cost of their passes taken out of a central administrative budget line,” explained senate representative Oliver Bladek.
Given the situation, Bladek, and fellow Student at Large representative Oliver Ho fear that students are costing the university money, while other senators and board members aren’t.
“Any senator has the same vote, representation, and ability to participate in the senate and its sub-committees,” explained Bladek. “As such, the benefits to all senators should be equivalent. All parking passes [should] come out of the same General Administration Budget Line.”
Neither Ho nor Bladek are certain of the rationale behind the differential treatment of student senators and other senators regarding parking passes. The senate is also unsure of the origin of the practice of taking student passes out of the Students’ Union budget.
“The cost of student parking passes and the cost of parking upgrades for some faculty and staff who are members of the senate and of the Board of Governors have been direct charges against the senate and board accounts respectively for several years now,” explained Brenda Tweedie from the Senate Office.
Senator Ho raised the matter of the parking passes in his Sept. 24 report to the Students’ Legislative Council. He feels it is important that students not be treated differently than others on representative bodies.
“We are there to represent students, and if student reps are accorded different rights then there is an inherent message being conveyed that student interests are not as important as other interests,” argued Ho. Ho would like to see the situation remedied. While he realizes it is not a big financial issue, Ho believes the symbolism behind the discrepancy is important.
“The bottom line is that it’s not about parking, it’s about equity.”
Despite their concerns with the issue, both Bladek and Ho feel their roles on the senate are very important, and feel they are treated equally in every other way by fellow senators.
“Students are the reason why the University of Calgary exists,” stated Bladek. “As such, students need to link to the community at large, and the best way to do this is through the senate. If they weren’t there, the dynamic of the body would be entirely different, and it would lose touch with the university at-large.”