Headlines for Hacks, June 2011

A collection of minor tidbits.

Extra, Extra! Read all about the Ubyssey!

After successfully raising their fee by $1 in this year’s AMS referendum, the Ubyssey has undergone some changes, with more currently in progress. The look of the paper is being redesigned with slightly smaller-sized pages as well as some glossy pages. The staff structure has been tweaked with the biggest change being the introduction of two managing editors, one for the paper version and one for the website. Unfortunately, the copy editor position, in charge of proofreading and fact-checking, was the biggest casualty of the staff restructuring; formally, accuracy now becomes everyone’s and no one’s responsibility. The idea behind the staff shuffle is to have an increased web presence and to get online content up on a regular basis, rather than dumping it all on the website the at same time as the paper comes out.

Despite their protestations of being underpaid and understaffed, the paper also has a reasonable amount of staff on the payroll all summer and are publishing twice monthly until September. The managing editor, web, is being tasked with ensuring there is at least one new piece of content on the Ubyssey website every day.

That new infusion of cash came at a good time because it turns out the paper lost about $30,000 last year. According to Coordinating Editor Justin McElroy, it was mostly due to the loss of a particularly large ad contract due to having botched that ad’s layout, as well as overly optimistic estimates of revenue from online ad sales. Interestingly, the paper’s $30,000 loss is larger as a percentage of their overall budget than the AMS’s current deficit, which has been easy fodder that the paper has repeatedly picked at.

Magical Mystery Sauder Money

At April’s UBC Vancouver Senate meeting, commerce students were the big winner in the new awards category. A variety of new merit-based awards for commerce students were approved, totalling $197,500. Given that the endowment payout rate currently sits at 3.5%, that represents a ~$5.6M investment.

However, a closer look at the scholarships reveals that almost all of them are named after the Sauder School of Business. This is very peculiar. Typically, awards are named after individual donors.

It appears that the faculty is indeed the major donor for the awards, funding the new scholarships from its reserves, with a small portion from anonymous donors. Along with the $6M that went towards phase 3 of the building project and the $4M that went towards paying back UBC and commerce students, Sauder has now spent about $15M from its reserve funds this year, and it’s not evident how much more is still in the bank.

In a completely unrelated note, the cost to build Phase 2 of the building project, bankrolled by the CUS student fee, was $17.9M.

A list of the new awards can be found here.

The Taxman Cometh to the AMS

“The Canada Revenue Agency is seeking to get us to pay tax on our businesses, questioning our non‐profit status.  We’ve drafted a letter to send them, telling them they’re wrong.”

The May 19, 2011 AMS Executive committee meeting minutes outline how the AMS is being approached to pay taxes on their business revenue. As a non-profit, the AMS currently does not pay taxes on revenue from their food or retail outlets. So far, there has been no further inquiries by the CRA, but if it’s decided that the AMS must pay taxes on their business revenue it would both blow a huge hole in their budget and would likely mean increased prices at AMS food outlets.

A related precedent was recently set when the Memorial University Students’ Union lost a court case in which they were ordered to pay business and property tax to the city of St. John’s for their student bar and other space they occupy.


From June 6-9, the Annual General Meeting of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) is taking place in beautiful Victoria, BC. While there is a wide range of things on the agenda, only a few things are of distinct interest to UBC.

After a few years of waiting, it appears that UBC-O will finally be admitted to the CIS as probationary members. They will start competing in Canada West this fall with the minimum four sports, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball and if approved by the CIS, will be eligible for the national championships.

Just as UBC-O is joining up, Canada West told the CIS in April of its intention to split into two regional associations. UBC, UVic, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba intend to form their own association while the rest of the Canada West schools would form another. Since the creation of a new regional association is an exceedingly rare event, the CIS had to take a thorough look into its governance documents to see what protocols exist surrounding the creation of new regional associations. They found “some gaps, unclear language and circular references”. While the current regulations may be used as an initial framework, it appears more likely that members will decide how to deal with the creation of the new association at the meeting and the regulations will subsequently be adjusted to conform with that approach.

At issue are things like how to determine championship berths, nominees for awards, and membership on CIS committees. The agenda contains proposals designed to render the “new” Canada West division powerless by giving reduced privileges to regional associations with fewer than 8 members. Given that the total student population of the five large schools is significantly larger than the total student population of the remaining Canada West schools, the big schools will undoubtedly react negatively to this attempt to strip them of any meaningful influence within the CIS.

Another UBC-initiated governance idea, the creation of a Presidents’ Advisory Board, is also up for discussion. It would put university presidents in regular contact with the CIS leadership. On issues of significant importance to UBC, such as Athletic Financial Aid, minor changes are being contemplated, but no major policy shifts will be occurring this year.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Taking money from all Sauder students and giving it back based on merit instead of need isn’t in line with the great change the University took towards taking Policy 72 seriously. That’s a seriously regressive change that most people wouldn’t stand for, when given the option between merit-based and need-based allocation.

    If this were a private donation, that donor could decide what they want, but this isn’t private–this is funds from everyone to those who may not need it.

    Posted by Alex Lougheed | June 8, 2011, 9:45 am
  2. “C’mon, government, give us a break. A TAX break, that is!”

    Posted by Michael C | June 8, 2011, 7:50 pm
  3. I hope “increased web presence” translates in part to “finally getting an RSS feed”

    Posted by Sarah K | June 8, 2011, 8:12 pm
  4. We do have an RSS feed.


    Posted by Arshy Mann | June 9, 2011, 10:36 pm
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