BSD in financial straits

By Cam Cotton-O’Brien

With construction of the Taylor Family Library displacing Bermuda Shorts Day from its usual location, the Students’ Union is hoping to use Quality Money to cover additional costs.

This year’s BSD is facing financial problems because of the downturned economy and the construction of the TFL.

Historically, BSD is held in the grassy area to the south of the MacEwan Student Centre. This year it was forced to move, as the construction project is in the way.

Unfortunately for the SU, this means that BSD will cost almost $24,000 more than 2007. All current estimates are based on a worst case scenario.

In order to pay for this cost increase, the SU is turning to Quality Money, asking for $30,000 per year for the next three years.

Quality Money is a fund allocated to the SU by the U of C board of governors that is tied to tuition. The fund now totals $1.4 million each year.

“With our change of venue combined with our limited resources, we felt that looking to Quality Money for funding would be an appropriate avenue, as [BSD] is by far the most popular event among our students,” said SU president Dalmy Baez.

Baez noted that funding BSD with Quality Money adhered with the program’s mandate to improve the student experience, given that it is consistently the most well attended event of each academic year. Others are not so sure.

Social Sciences faculty representative Teale Phelps Bondaroff questioned whether Quality Money should be used in such a way.

“Quality Money is specifically from tuition and it is not appropriate to spend on a party,” he said. “That’s like taking your inheritance and blowing it on an alcohol-fuelled weekend in Vegas with your friends.”

This year’s projected revenue for BSD totals $88,000, while the expenses near $136,000.

Phelps Bondaroff maintained that, though BSD is a worthwhile event and should be continued, the funding for the event should come from sources other than Quality Money.

He also raised concerns about the proposal asking for three years of funding instead of just one.

“That means that you are projecting to budget deficits for three years,” he said. “This year we messed up. Fine, next year we know better. Why ask for three years? That’s just irresponsible. If BSD is such an important event, then why are we becoming reliant on university Quality Money which may not always be available?”

Baez said the SU was seeking the three-year Quality Money grant because they know the event will be displaced for at least two or three years and anticipate that the financial situation will remain difficult for the foreseeable future.

She added that it was common for Quality Money grants to be sought for multiple years, as this aided in their financial stability.

Phelps Bondaroff is aware that something will need to be done to fund the event, but held that the resources should not come from a Quality Money grant.

“Nobody wants to be the president or VP events who charges first for wristbands or raises beer prices, but there definitely are other options,” he said. “One of those is out of the operating budget. There are other funds that are there for a rainy day. What’s a worse day than BSD not being run?”

While Baez agreed that BSD could probably be financed in some other fashion, she felt that doing so through Quality Money is the best possible option.

“I’m sure there are the options of charging for wristbands and what not, but we’re not sure that would be acceptable by students at this point,” she said. “Our goal is to ensure we provide a free, safe and fun event for our students to celebrate the end of the year.”

If the Quality Money is not entirely needed to run the event, the remainder would be put back into the Quality Money fund.

The issue will be voted on in Student Legislative Council, which is open to the public, Tuesday.