In the last AMS Assembly, changes were brought forth to return the Orientation Roundtable (ORT) budgeting process to its pre-COVID state.
At Assembly, Vice-President (University Affairs) Callum Robertson mentioned student leaders at Assembly wanted to see more transparency with the budget, specifically, an explanation of where student dollars are being allocated.
“When we had our first Orientation summit meeting, we wanted to start with changing the way we reached out to faculty societies,” Robertson said in an interview with The Journal.
A goal of the new budget plan is to make the Orientation summit a regular part of the budgeting process and establish consultations as a standard practice for future years.
The ORT budget for this year acknowledges the actual budget and consultations for four distinct categories: general expenses, concert, faculty, and training.
“We started [planning] after the General Assembly, having some conversations and then shortly after, I started to talk to [ORT Coordinator] Mariah [Keeling] in mid-February and we began having consultations with faculty societies—that’s when the priorities were sort of laid out beyond what we had thought,” Robertson said.
Robertson spoke about directly involving faculty societies in the budgeting process “in the spirit of transparency.” He said Keeling really helped with providing context in terms of each specific line item in the budget.
“One of the greatest benefits of this system was that it allowed for faculty societies the liberty to also talk about things related to the budget lines, but not really about the budget itself.”
Robertson explained how volunteer appreciation has been allocated differently in this year’s budget, being budgeted separately for each section of ORT. He said most of the volunteer appreciation funding goes to the Orientation concert volunteers.
“[Last year] we had a much larger majority of funding in the general volunteer appreciation, and then a much smaller amount in the concert appreciation section.”
“For clarity’s sake—and for everybody’s benefit—we said we’ll move most of our money into the volunteer appreciation for the concert section to be more transparent. This is actually where we think it’s going to go.”
Keeling outlined the most significant changes in the budgeting process.
“One of the largest components we’ve tackled with the 2023 budget is looking at the training section of the budget more critically,” Keeling said.
The goal of the training section is to ensure all Orientation leaders are properly compensated for training and supported by the rest of the AMS moving forward, she added.
“After having conversations with faculty societies, myself, Callum [Robertson], and incoming Vice-President (University Affairs) [Victoria Mills], we have re-allocated some of our funds in the training budget.”
In consultations, Keeling discovered training felt very intense for Orientation leaders.
“By being able to provide a bit of a larger sum for [training], through those really intensive training days, hopefully, we should be able to provide a bit more of an efficient and well-run training session,” she added.
Keeling mentioned how rising inflation will cause an increase in registration costs for incoming students participating in their faculty’s Orientation.
“[Higher] prices will have a direct impact on registration fees […] the incoming student experience is one that we are monitoring very closely.”
Allocating the budget requires accountability, Keeling said.
“Everybody has a seat at the table, whether it’s in the summit, or it’s during our subsequent follow up meetings and consultations.”
AMS, Budget Report, orientation, Orientation Week
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