Editorial—Fun with Funding

This week, I got the Council Meeting report from the last AUSU Council meeting completed, with some light reporting on the newly approved budget and upcoming AUSU fee increase.  Initially I was thinking of going through category by category noting significant differences, but in looking through, most of the changes except the one I singled out in the report were minor increases with a few minor decreases sprinkled in.

However, what’s interesting to me is to note that fee increase is only translating to an expected increase of $59,000 in the AUSU annual budget.  Meanwhile, the provincial government just promised to spend $39 million to help provide Calgary with a new arena.

To put that into perspective, the entire base operating grant for AU in 2022-2023 is $41.5 million.  To get this, AU had to have a sudden, unexpected change in its leadership without proper consultation, had to agree to change its hiring plans to favor a small rural community and suddenly cease its near virtual strategy that it had been pursuing (and had been approved by successive governments) and has to meet certain metrics including that over 95% of AU students get jobs within their chosen fields of study within two years of graduation.  How the Alberta government expects AU to not only control the job market, but the choices that students have made almost four years previous is beyond me.  But I guess that’s why I’m not a politician.  I simply don’t have that kind of foresight.

Bringing this all together, the fee increase students will experience that allow AUSU to continue to provide the services, awards, and advocacy that it does is less than 0.1% of what the government is just going to give to create a new sports arena in the city of Calgary, and only slightly less than the entire operating base grant that AU has to bend over and scrape for.

The difference, of course, is that the arena is a project by private hands—very few of them at that—who will benefit massively from this money and the money that the city of Calgary is going to provide.

People often wonder why governments run deficits while services seem to get worse. I put forward that wealth transfers like this are exactly why.  Public funding, your taxes and mine, should go to public projects, like post-secondary institutions, that can provide long-term benefits for a lot of people.  Not to private businessmen with strong connections.

But, with that rant out of the way, let’s concentrate for a moment on this week’s Voice.  This week, we happily feature an interview with an AU psychology student who arrived in Canada already with degrees, but found they weren’t recognized.

Also, our fiction feature this week is somewhat of a mood piece.  It’s definitely a good read, and I hope you like it.  Plus, as mentioned, this week has the latest Council Connection after a long break including information on the new budget.  Also worth mentioning this week is that a few students have answered the call and put their virtual pen forward to write for the Voice Magazine, and I couldn’t be happier.  We see the first of their articles this week as Ana Sabo gives us an informative and fun review of some upcoming, unreleased music.  Also book reviews, research opportunities (both as an assistant or as a participant), advice, inspirational articles, events, scholarships and more!   Enjoy the read!