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Quality money plan approved by SU

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The University of Calgary Students' Union is one big step closer to spending up to $2 million in quality money allocated by the University's Board of Governors.

The Students' Legislative Council passed a proposal Tue., Mar. 29 splitting the money into a number of SU projects, ranked in order of priority.

The large size projects include allocating 25 per cent of the funding to a student commons in MacEwan Student Centre and another 25 per cent for a SU undergraduate research endowment. A campus improvement fund and class size reduction program are each allocated 15 per cent, with smaller projects like student awards, teaching awards and a library improvement grant receiving the remainder of the money.

"We have to sit down with university administration and GSA to hammer out this agreement," said SU President Bryan West. "But, students should start to see the benefits of this by September."

The Tuition Relief and Enhance-ment of Quality funding was allotted to the SU and the Graduate Students' Association in 2004 during tuition increase negotiations with the U of C Board of Governors. The funding is guaranteed to be at least $1.03 million, with further funding awarded on a sliding scale based on the amount of the provincial government grant increases. The SU and GSA will split the total with 83 per cent being awarded to the SU.

The GSA has its own plans for their 17 per cent of the funds, focusing primarily on a mentorship program and improving graduate student spaces. A smaller portion of the GSA money will fund community building initiatives and help pay for legal assistance in possible future collective bargaining arrangements between the university and graduate students.

The allocation of the funding needs to be approved by the SU, GSA and senior members of administration. GSA President Calvin Seaman is confident the GSA proposal will pass.

"I haven't heard any objections to it," he said, noting the proposal has already been presented to PFC. "I don't think they'll have any problems with it."

West is also confident the SU spending choices will be approved.

"Some of the stuff is just sketched in," said West, noting the first $1 million has to be agreed upon, but the remainder will be made available without conditions. "By September, most of these programs will be implemented."

The SU asked students how the money should be allocated in a plebiscite in this year's SU General Election. West defended the spending proposal although some SU officials complained the decisions did not reflect the results of the plebiscite.

"It doesn't stick to the results of the plebiscite that closely," admitted West, noting the SU is privy to information students may not have. "In good governance we had to take a look the good merits of it and not just blindly follow the plebiscite."

The plebiscite asked students to rank spending priorities on specific projects including a student commons, a personal tuition rebate and a tuition relief grant. Reduced class sizes received the most support with 2,476 students rating it as a high priority.

Although West believes that the U of C should be responsible for funding more class sessions, he said the SU is willing to pick up the slack.

"If we can help, we'll help," he said, noting students are suffering in certain large classes like COMS 363, while other students are unable to get a seat in some classes because of limited size. "We just get the most complaints about these classes. That's something we'd probably look at because students are getting screwed."

The SU funding proposals estimates extra sessions could be funded for as little as $8,000 each, a figure West believes will be easily paid for out of the Class Size Reduction Program.

The SU proposal should be approved before the end of April, said West. Administration was unavailable for comment before press time.

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