AFSA not going anywhere anytime soon

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The Accounting and Finance Student Association (AFSA) will not be recognized as a Feds’ society in the near future, despite 92 per cent of its student body voting in favour of the initiative in a referendum Oct.28. 


The idea was brought up as a possible solution to fix AFSA’s inability to raise sufficient revenues to compete.


In the current funding model, students within AFSA pay $50 to the Accounting and Finance Endowment Fund (AFEF). In addition, individual students pay their respective society fee. For example, an AFM student each term pays $50 to the AFEF, plus a $7 fee to the Arts Student Union (ASU).


AFSA, as a student association, receives some funding from ASU based on the number of students enrolled in the AFM program any given year, plus the yearly-accumulated interest on the AFEF.


The interest being collected by AFSA from the AFEF was not providing the student association with sufficient amount of funds to maintain a certain level of competitiveness and this is when the idea of AFSA becoming a Feds’ society was discussed.


There were two issues brought to the attention of Maaz Yasin, VP Internal, by Tom Scott, the director of school of accounting and finance.


“[The] first issue was that the endowment fund is not being used for its intended purpose,” Yasin said. “The endowment fund is supposed to be used by AFSA students and the school of accounting for academic events and things of very specific nature; but AFSA wants to do a whole lot of things, such as social events. The endowment fund, the way it’s set up right now, is not an appropriate source of funds to AFSA.”


Yasin recognizes AFSA is trying to keep up competitively with other business student associations across the province.


“Essentially, they compete with other student associations from Laurier, York, and Western; all these very active and prominent business and commerce student associations,” Yasin said. “In order to be competitive with them, they need to be able to offer a certain level of events and programming.”


Another stakeholder to consider in finding a solution to better the competitive position of AFSA is ASU.


Dylan Ball, ASU president, and Brandon Rad, ASU’s executive VP, both emphasized the importance of the fact UW is not a business accredited school.


“That is something worth reiterating, we’re not a business school,” Rad said. “We often times hear comparisons to Laurier, Ryerson; those are accredited business schools. The school of accounting and finance isn’t. It’s not a very accurate comparison.”


Ball added, “We want them [AFSA] to be competitive, but we also understand there is a limit there, that we do not receive funding based on the fact we are business school because it would be different.”


Gerry Zhan, president of AFSA, in agreement with Yasin, highlighted AFSA’s current competitive disadvantage when compared to other business schools.


“AFM students are paying $9,000 tuition every term, but we’re not seeing as much value,” Zhan said, “In the BBA program at Laurier, great program, they only pay half the tuition; how can we stay competitive?”


However, Yasin said the deans of math, science, and arts have all expressed strong opposition to the idea of AFSA becoming its own Feds’ society.


According to Yasin, the deans are concerned with the precedence it would set with other student associations who express the desire to become their own societies in the future. Secondly, they warn of the added bureaucracy and governing structures a new Feds’ society would entail considering the association represents a student body, whose students belong to three different societies and faculties.


AFM students fall under the faculty of arts; CFM and Math/CPA students fall under the faculty of math; and Biotech/CPA fall under the faculty of science. AFSA sits under the arts student union (ASU) because the majority of their student body are in the AFM program.


“We can recognize they’re a unique organization because [the] students that they’re suppose to be doing events for and provide services for come from three different faculties,” Yasin said.


As an alternate solution, all stakeholders have come together to develop a re-allocated funding mechanism to address AFSA’s inability to raise the appropriate revenue it needs to compete. Talks are still in its preliminary stages.


Instead of paying $50 to the AFEF, students within AFSA will pay $20 to AFEF and pay $30 to their respective student society, in addition to the original society fee. The amount of money students pay in a given term will not actually change with the proposed re-allocation.


The $30 will be collected by ASU, MathSoc, and SciSoc and directly given to AFSA, which according to Zhan would be a “levy structure” funding mechanism.


“We wanted to be a society just to collect fees… We’re trying to find a resolution where we can have what our students want, but not necessarily become our own society because I know some of the deans are hesitant,” Zhan said.


The reallocation will, in theory, help AFSA increase its revenue generating abilities, without having to become its own society.


Zhan said their preliminary estimates suggest they’ll be able to increase their revenue from $65,000 to $125,000 with the proposed levy.


Ninety-one per cent of AFSA students voted in favour of the levy structure in last month’s referendum.


Yasin admitted there’s a good case to be made in favour of recognizing AFSA as its own society, not now, but in the future.


“I think we can, if were to theoretically go in that direction, we can differentiate AFSA enough to prove it’s a unique case,” Yasin said regarding the concerns the deans have brought up in discussions.


Zhan downplayed AFSA’s desire and intent in pursuing Feds’ society status, and focused on the positives of the levy structure.


“Us [AFSA and ASU] separating is not a big deal, as long as our students are getting what they want, which is more value for their money,” Zhan said.


ASU is not able to accurately estimate what type of effect AFSA becoming its own Feds’ society would have on their revenue base. However, Ball said he’s trying to eliminate the separate orientation programming, which he believes is responsible for initializing the divisive culture and tensions that exist between ASU and AFSA’s student body.


The decrease in direct funding towards the AFEF and the levy structure will both need to be approved by the board of governors at some point in the winter term of 2015.
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