PRAVDA - Address from the President

February 3, 1997.

IT SHOULD BE NO SURPRISE to you that I wrote this column before now. The term now, of course, refers to the time when you are reading this article. This should be quite intuitive to you if you understand any two of the following three topics: deadlines, newspaper publishing schedules, and our linear relationship with the space-time continuum.

THE DAY THAT I wrote this article was January 28, 1997. I don’t know what that day means to you. Perhaps the anniversary of the Challenger disaster, or the taping of We Are The World. Maybe that was the day your toilet overflowed, or the day you finally mastered that motorcycle game in the Spoke. For me, that day signifies the start of the 1997 USC presidential elections, and the day I started becoming a "has-been".

ELECTION FEVER has gripped the campus. Potential presidential people presenting posters, platforms, pamphlets & promises. It’s kind of weird for me. Nine individuals who really want my job, and are licking their chops at the thought of sitting in my imitation leather chair. Each one of them wants to push me off the hill and sing "I’m the King of the Castle!" – I know, I was there myself.

BUT DON’T START MAKING my tombstone quite yet. In fact, I’m in the prime of my presidential life. I’m here until April 30, and the next three months are looking to be the most productive ones of my term. I’m going ahead full steam, and will be implementing a myriad of ideas and initiatives. Which brings me to my main topic of the day, albeit in a very roundabout way – stick with me here .

POP QUIZ, HOTSHOT! A maniac has strapped a bomb to Sandra Bullock and is going to blow you all to kingdom come unless you can name 10 compulsory non-tuition related ancillary fees at Western, and their annual amounts. What do you do Jack? WHAT DO YOU DO? If our October student survey is any indication then you probably aren’t looking at a happy ending here. One of those fees that you probably can’t identify is the $50 Student Support Fee (SSF).

SO WHAT IS THIS FEE? Well that’s an excellent question, and I’m glad you asked. The SSF was introduced in the 1993-94 academic year. At $50 per full-time student it generates about one million dollars per year. There has never been any detailed accounting of what this fee is used for, but it goes into the same pool of money as tuition. So in theory a portion of it goes to scholarships and bursaries, but in theory communism works.

THIS FEE HAS IRRITATED students since its’ inception. Sure, you may not have known about it, but if I sat down and explained it to you in detail, you’d be irritated. Last year students tried to have the fee removed, but proposal was rejected. This year, I have a new proposal, and I think it might work. Instead of having the SSF collected by the university, and have it disappear into the nebulous operating budget, the fee will be collected by the USC. The USC would then endow the money to the university for purposes of scholarships and bursaries. Endowed funds are locked into accounts where the capital can never be touched, and only the interest can be drawn upon. The money is managed by university fund managers, has a guaranteed rate of return, and is protected against inflation. This plan is the difference between spending your full paycheque every week, and putting a portion aside for a nest egg.

THE BEAUTY of this plan comes in a one-two punch. First of all, there is no change in your fee — you just have $50 dollars going in a different direction, and unless you have an affinity for fine print, you wouldn’t notice a difference. Punch number two comes from the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund (OSOTF). For the first three years of this endowment, the provincial government will match our funds. That means that within three years we will have a six million dollar endowment fund established. Years from now, students are going to thank us, and I sincerely wish that someone had the foresight to set this up several decades ago.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. My plan for the future. I’m really excited about this initiative and I’m confident that the university will accept my proposal. But to tie this whole article together, I want to point out that this endowment plan was not part of my campaign platform. In fact, when I got elected, I didn’t have a clue about ancillary fees. The opportunities and dynamics of my job make it almost impossible to propose everything you want to accomplish before you do it. So my advice to you is to concentrate on the presidential candidates themselves, not the "issue of the day". Find out as much as you can: attend a couple of forums, read the Gazette, and check out the election web site at because for goodness sakes, you can’t let a chump like me get elected again.

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