5 Things You Should Know About the LSS Surplus Before the BAGM
One of the main issues to be decided at the Bi-Annual General Meeting of the LSS (BAGM) is how to spend approximately $25,000 of excess surplus funds on hand. The LSS Council and student body have struggled with this decision throughout the year.
I personally became involved with the surplus issue earlier this semester, and, like many before me, my frustration with the political discourse at this school has led me to write this article.
I first drafted this article after attending an LSS Council meeting and engaging in the subsequent Facebook debate where I felt like my ideas were not being heard for what they were.
However, upon review of the first draft, I realized that I had produced a completely self-serving piece of written advocacy that was littered with my own personal bias and sarcastic pot shots at the “establishment”. It was a good read, but ultimately I decided to delete it.
Instead, I am going to try and do something different here and just stick to the facts.
With that in mind, here are 5 things that you should know about the LSS surplus before the BAGM on March 2nd.
The LSS is projected to end the year with $24,967 of excess surplus.
Based on the most recent budget, the LSS is projected to end the year with a surplus of $39,967. After setting aside $15,000 as a “Reserve Fund” to cover contingent liabilities and other cash flow needs there will be $24,967 of “excess surplus” available to the students.
The excess surplus is the result of overcharging/underspending by the LSS in 2014 and 2015.
Every year you are charged student activity fees by the SGPS, which you pay through SOLUS. Embedded in these fees is $75.35, which is charged to you specifically as a law student. This is the primary source of funding for the LSS.
The LSS uses these fees to support student activities at the law school. These activities include putting on a semi-formal, supporting clubs, the Queen’s Law Journal, Law Games and Med/Law Games to name a few. (Editor’s Note: Juris Diction is also a recipient of LSS funding.) The surplus is the result of the LSS collecting more in fees than it spends in providing benefits.
The current excess surplus on hand was created by overcharging/underspending in 2014 and 2015 ($15,642 and $9,461 respectively).
The LSS is forecasted to run a small deficit for 2016.
The 2Ls and 3Ls have directly contributed $12,132 to the surplus (almost half of the excess surplus on hand).
The 2L class has contributed $3,870 to the surplus, and the 3L class has contributed $8,261. The total direct contributions of $12,132 from the 2Ls and 3Ls represents almost half of the excess surplus on hand.
These contributions to the surplus represent an overcharging of $19.55 per student in 2L, and $50.37 per student in 3L.
The remainder of the excess surplus is comprised of contributions from the graduating classes of 2014 and 2015, and the forecasted deficit for 2016.
There were many alternatives suggested to LSS Council for how to spend the excess surplus.
The LSS Council reached out to the student body on a number of occasions to solicit suggestions for how the excess surplus should be spent. There were many different alternatives provided by the students including:
- Capital spending initiatives for a coffee machine, ping pong table or other student lounge upgrades
- Establishment of scholarship endowment funds
- Digitizing library materials
- Direct cash refunds to the current students
- Subsidies for student expenses such as smokers, coolers, or Examsoft fees
- A year-end party
Currently there are only 3 alternatives on the agenda for the BAGM for how to spend the excess surplus.
Members of the LSS Council have put forward two alternatives for surplus spending at the BAGM.
- A $25,000 contribution to establish an entrance scholarship for Aboriginal law students; or,
- A $25,000 contribution to a bursary for students with significant financial need.
The third alternative is the LSS Surplus Option Plan. Under this plan each student will be allocated a fair share of the excess surplus available. Students will then have the power to allocate their share of the surplus to one or more student initiatives by filling out a survey at the end of the year. Options can be put on the survey by LSS Council or by an individual student who collects 50 supporting signatures for their initiative.
Details of all proposals being put forward at the BAGM can be found in the LSS Dropbox.
The LSS surplus spending decision will ultimately be made by those students who attend the BAGM on Wednesday, March 2 at 6:30pm in MacDonald Hall Room 001.
I encourage you all to attend and have your voice heard.
Tyler Brent (2L) is a contributor to Juris Diction.