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Dear President Summerlee.....

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

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Written by Jenn Watt

Dear President Summerlee,

As a response to your open invitation for budget suggestions, the Central Student Association would like to put forth this plan for the University's 2005-2006 fiscal year.

Representatives from the CSA have attended many budget meetings with the administration. Our budget proposal is based exclusively on the assumptions and ideas presented to us during those meetings. We are also assuming that the reason we have to make cutbacks is due to lack of government funding, not inefficient staff or wasteful campus spending.

After consulting with other stakeholders, we are unsure whether everyone has received the same proposed eight steps to make up the $11 million. The steps outlined below are those that we have been presented and are working from.

1.. Net revenue cost recovery programs ($120,000)
2.. Reduce capital infrastructure planning ($2M)
3.. Increase international fees by 5% ($250,000)
4.. I.T. fee (pending referendum) ($550,000)
5.. Fundraising target ($1M)
6.. Increase research support ($150,000)
7.. Defer capital for parking ($400,000)
8.. Cut 4.5% across colleges ($8.43M)

We are also looking at the costs outlined in your presentation to the Senate on March 1, 2005.

9.. Restructuring ($6.5M)
10.. Priorities Investment Fund ($1.35M)

The CSA has spoken with many, many stakeholders on campus about this budget and the consensus is that we cannot cut anymore. There are many on campus who are still recovering from the 3.5% cut last year and are certainly not ready for the proposed 4.5% this year. Custodial services are stretched to the limit, TAs and sessionals are already taking on far too much work and many of the workers with low seniority are frightened for their jobs. On top of that, international students have been unfairly targeted as the only student group to receive tuition increases.

We firmly believe that this campus cannot function the way it is currently. Cutting more staff and raising international students' tuition is only going to make it worse. We are worried for the quality of education for the years to come and we are concerned that our international students are going to be forced to leave due to harsh financial conditions.

Therefore, our proposal for this year's budget contains no cuts to programs and no international student tuition increases.

Our suggestion is this: implement all of the proposed cost saving measures except for raising tuition and cutting the 4.5% to colleges. This will create $4.22 million on the $11 million problem, leaving $6.78 million.

The administration has already proposed running a $6 million deficit to restructure the campus once the staff positions have been cut, through buy-outs and retirement packages, so the deficit should not pose a problem.

Although rollbacks and pay-cuts are not necessarily the most effective, or long-term strategies to find money, much of the current proposal leans on one-time cuts and deferrals. With this in mind, we think that it would be in order to ask all directors, deans and VPs to take a salary rollback to 2003 levels. According to our calculations, this would free-up approximately $500,000.

The Central Student Association believes that saving staff, service and student money at the same cost to the University as cutting all of these things is the best solution. We understand that much of the budget crunch is due to government under-funding and that future budgets are uncertain and frightening to a public institution. However, it is much better to show the government that we cannot run on less than to allow them to diminish our standards and quality while we remain silent.

The best way to send a message that our University is running on empty is to avoid all cuts and to take the same deficit as you would have imposed if you had cut.

We believe that our suggestion is really the only responsible, humanitarian way a president can go with the funds our university has been granted.


Thank-you for your consideration,

Jenn Watt
Central Student Association

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