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SU approves $12,000 cut to executive travel and conference funding

By Scott Strasser, February 14 2017 —

Students’ Union executives at the University of Calgary will have a smaller budget for travel and conference expenses next year.

At their meeting on Feb. 7, the SU’s operations and finance committee approved a $33,000 budget for executive travel from July 2017 – July 2018.

That’s about $12,000 less than the $45,291 devoted to executive conference and travel in the SU’s 2016–17 operating budget.

According to SU vice-president operations and finance Branden Cave, the reduced funding is due to the SU opting out of the 2018 Leaders’ Hall — an orientation and leadership skills conference for student governments.

“Leaders’ Hall is valuable for those small schools that don’t have as rigorous an orientation process,” Cave said. “We saw that our students wouldn’t get as much value out of it, so we’ve decided not to attend in 2018.”

The $33,000 will pay for travel and conference fees for the five SU executives from July 2017 – July 2018. The funding will cover flights, accommodation and other expenses when executives attend out-of-city events.

Cave said the SU is also reducing its executive travel budget as a cost-cutting measure following the SU’s failed injunction application to maintain operational control of MacHall.

“We’re looking at ways we can do some cost-saving and tighten our belt with the uncertainty around how much revenue we’re getting back from food court tenants,” Cave said. “That way, our bottom line is affected as little as possible.”

According to Cave, the SU president and vice-president external each attend 10 conferences a year, while the other three vice-presidents attend four conferences per year. Three of those conferences are attended by all five executives.

SU president Stephan Guscott has attended Leaders’ Hall twice. He agreed that it is more beneficial for smaller schools to attend.

“We’ve been fortunate to create a strong orientation and transition process for new executives. A lot of the things we provide in-house are duplicated at Leaders’ Hall. It’s a good conference, but the value for our students isn’t what we want it to be for that type of expenditure,” Guscott said.

The SU executive travel and conference funding is broken down into monthly allotments. The most expensive travel month for the SU in 2016–17 was May, with $13,200 devoted to executive travel funding.

The only month in which executives was not allotted travel funding was January.

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