College Council’s (CC) decision last Wednesday to censure women’s rugby following its second consecutive budget deficit, while unfortunate, is a justifiable repercussion. While we recognize that a series of miscommunications between CC and rugby officers led to confusion regarding the repayment of $4665 of debt in 2011, the addition of another $2157.75 of debt in 2012 due to overspending is unacceptable. The CC funding process is complex, but it is the responsibility of all groups, including rugby, to work within CC’s financial bylaws. However, it is also CC’s duty to ensure that its decision-making processes and subsequent handling of budgetary issues are done in a thoughtful, straightforward way to minimize confusion and miscommunication going forward.
At the bottom line, we feel the decision to censure a CC subgroup that has run a consistent budget deficit was the correct one. While intricate, the CC funding bylaws play an important role in safeguarding money that should benefit all students, and CC is justified in taking action against irresponsible spending. This punitive action should serve as a reminder to student groups that it is the responsibility of the groups themselves to carefully track their finances and to work within their means.
If rugby felt that its expenses – which were mostly incurred by bus travel to matches – were justified, the team should have appealed for additional funding when it became clear that its expenses would exceed its budget allotment. We understand why a club would seek to avoid personal car use for reasons of safety and accessibility; however, those concerns should have been presented to CC and evaluated during the budget appeals process – a process in which rugby did not participate this year.
The expenditures of each club are unique, and while we do not expect CC members to be thoroughly trained in the nuances of each club’s needs, we do expect them to inform themselves to the best of their ability when arbitrating financial matters. In future arbitrations, CC should make efforts to have a member of the club subject to such important decisions as censure in attendance at the relevant meeting to clarify and justify the group’s spending.
The recurring debt incurred by women’s rugby and the subsequent decision to censure are, to an extent, the results of a breakdown in communications between team officials, the CC treasurer and the Controller’s Office. No matter the state or cause of its debt, women’s rugby should have been made fully aware of its financial standing with the College, both the fate of the debt incurred the previous year and the fact that the team was at immediate risk of censure; additionally, if, in the team’s opinion, these matters were not made clear, rugby officers should have inquired about them. These miscommunications can be attributed to both sides of this dispute and as such we hope that this situation will motivate the CC treasurer and club treasurers to work to improve lines of communication in instances of subgroup debt or financial malfeasance.