Five student clubs lose opt-out fees

AMS strips charity groups of funding after several fail to pick up their cheques and one fails an AMS audit

Nicola Plummer (left) made the announcement yesterday.
Nicola Plummer (left) made the announcement yesterday.
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By Sebastian Leck

Assistant News Editor

Five student groups lost their AMS funding this week after either failing to pick up their installment of their student fee or violating AMS club policy.

AMS Vice-President (Operations) Nicola Plummer announced the clubs were losing their student fees at Assembly last night. Canadian Students Unified Student Environmental Network (CUSEN), Queen’s Students for Accessible Education, Queen’s Students for Corporate Social Responsibility, Keep a Child Alive and Students Taking Action Now: Darfur will each lose their opt-out student fees.

Together, the groups forfeited $27,890.55. The AMS collected $824,724.02 in opt-out fees this year.

Plummer said CUSEN, Queen’s Students for Accessible Education, Queen’s Students for Corporate Social Responsibility and Keep a Child Alive failed to pick up the second part of their student fee last year.

She asked them to submit financial records for this year, she said, since AMS policy states that clubs must spend student fee funds during the same year they receive them.

“They failed to return any correspondence and then failed to pick up the first instalment of their student fee for the 2013-2014 year by the first Friday back in the winter term,” she told the Journal via email.

West Africa AIDS Foundation was originally going to lose its fee due to “miscommunication”, according to Plummer, but will now be receiving it. “They were supposed to pick [their cheque] up, they never did, and then they came back saying that they were turned away by the AMS front desk,” she said. “I can’t verify that, so I can’t say they are lying.”

On Wednesday, the West Africa AIDS Foundation president Daniel Quainoo told the Journal via email that they were appealing their lost fee, but declined to comment further.

The amount of forfeited fees was unexpectedly high, Plummer said, so she has not yet made a decision on how to distribute the fees. However, she said they will be distributed to AMS granting committees as per AMS policy.

Granting committees provide funds to student groups, such as new clubs requiring money to establish themselves, or sustainability initiatives.

During Assembly, Plummer said the student club Students Taking Action Now: Darfur is losing their student fee after failing a random AMS audit earlier this year.

“They hadn’t spent any money last year. I audited them, they had $18,000 dollars in their account and they were receiving another $8,000 this year,” she said. “The group was basically kind of disorganized.” However, their fee won’t be going to a grant committee. Instead, she said, she’ll be meeting with the group and helping them donate their student fee funds to a charity, she said.

CUSEN had a $1.00 fee, the Queen’s Students for Accessible Education had a $0.95 fee and the fee for Students Taking Action Now: Darfur was $0.90.

Keep a Child Alive had a $0.50 fee, while Queen’s Students for Corporate Social Responsibility had a $0.30 fee.

According to the AMS Clubs Manager Clare Bekenn, CUSEN and Keep a Child Alive weren’t ratified last year.

AMS policy doesn’t mandate that a student organization be ratified to receive a student fee. However, Plummer said the most likely explanation is that these clubs are “defunct” and no longer operating on campus. CUSEN is affiliated with the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG). However, OPIRG coordinator Brea Hutchinson said CUSEN leaders haven’t responded to attempts to contact them.

CUSEN split off from OPIRG about three years ago, she said, and past OPIRG coordinators have told her that the group is shutting down.

“They’re not seeking to keep the fee because they’re not going to be operating on campus, or so I’ve been told,” she said.

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