Accounts need a sitter

On March 16, 2005 the AMS Board of Directors cancelled the After-Hours Childcare (AHC) service that had been in operation since 1995. The service provided weekend and weeknight childcare. It was decided that the money collected from the AHC’s $1 opt-outable fee would go to either the Ban Righ Centre or Queen’s Day Care, but neither service ever received a cheque.

The issue was forgotten until the Journal, following up on an undergraduate thesis published by Con-Ed student Andréa Stanger, approached AMS Controller Scott Bell who found the transfer had indeed never taken place. AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning gave the money—$7,797 plus accrued interest for a total $8,422—to Ban Righ Centre Director Barb Schlafer Friday.

AMS President Kingsley Chak pointed to previous executives as being responsible, saying it was an “oversight” on the AMS’s behalf.

It’s unfortunate the service was cancelled in the first place—although student parents are a minority on campus, they’re entitled to AMS representation. If students were still willing to pay the service’s opt-outable fee, this demonstrates a clear support for the program within the Queen’s community.

A supplementary program was proposed that would allow parents needing childcare to apply for aid but this never materialized, leaving few options for student parents.

Excusing the mistake as an “oversight” is convenient for a student government that changes every year. Accountability’s hard to come by when those responsible for last year’s management have graduated, making it easier for the current executive to shift the blame elsewhere.

But by taking on the role of leading the student body, the AMS executive needs to accept responsibility for its predecessors—even if it means cleaning up a mess that isn’t theirs.

That no one in the AMS was aware the transfer had yet to occur is even more alarming. It emphasizes the benefits of having permanent staff members to ensure accountability, although it’s worth noting even the AMS’s permanent staff didn’t notice the discrepancy for two and a half years.

If our student government is struggling to keep track of one account—whether it contains $100, $7,797 or $8 million—they’re seriously jeopardizing the confidence of the student body it exists to represent. Not only will money be lost with such haphazard accounting practices, but it’s difficult to ask for the voluntary financial support of a student body that can’t be sure its money is reaching the advertised destination.

The only way for the AMS to be a truly representative body is if its promises are fulfilled and students are assured their needs are being met. Dismissing such a blunder as an “oversight” is irresponsible and hardly works to restore confidence in an already-skeptical student body.

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