We read the UVSS Strategic Plan so you don’t have to

At the Oct. 27 Annual General Meeting, the UVSS Board of Directors released their two-year Strategic Plan. The 32-page document includes the results of an annual survey published by the UVSS in May, and updates students on the board’s goals and how they’re doing so far in their year-long term.

The results of the survey were used to create objectives within the plan that address issues that the society has had in the past, including student engagement and ensuring students feel their money is well spent. For example, the survey said that a majority of students were pessimistic about and unwilling to pay for UVSS events, and that 74 per cent of students did not feel the UVSS provided good value for the fees they paid. The plan aims to provide solutions that will hopefully create more support for the society.

“It gives students a way to track and check up on us,” said Kevin Tupper, UVSS director of finance and operations. “It lets students know that we’re listening.”

What to watch for

The plan contains a scorecard in its final pages that shows students what will change in the upcoming year. One important thing to watch for is the release of a UVSS human resources policy for SUB employees which, according to the plan, should be out by Dec. 1. At time of writing, the 100-page policy is still in the consultation phase, and may need more time to finalize.

“We need to be a little bit malleable sometimes with these things,” said Tupper.

The society also hopes to have eight new external partners, add one new revenue stream that doesn’t cost students, and increase the percentage of students that feel the UVSS represents their values from 17 per cent to 30. While this increase may seem low, Tupper says the plan was designed to keep goals realistic for their short term, as well as to create a better understanding among students of how the UVSS uses student fees.

“The goals are all intended to be reasonable and achievable,”said Tupper. Another of the UVSS’s goals is to ensure 80 per cent of students understand the society’s finances. “In a perfect world, it would be great to see 100 per cent of the students understand the finances and I think we’ve actually made great headway.”

How are we doing? 

With the board midway through its term, many of the plan’s goals have been completed, with others well on their way for the end of term.

One of the more basic campaign goals was to print a #MakeUVicLitAgain banner, though not everyone was happy with the slogan’s suggested connection to drinking, not to mention its allusion to Trump’s campaign.

But according to Tupper, all the events are on budget, and a five-year plan to pay down debt is well on its way, though has yet to be finalized.

In addition, Tupper said that they’re working on a revenue stream involving the use of Square transaction hardware that will offer more accessibility for student clubs to manage ticket sales and fundraisers. Tupper is also working on other revenue-boosting options for students, such as renting out space for events like the farmer’s market.

“We aren’t going to be able to achieve every single thing we’ve set out to do, but they’re goals and we’re achieving most of them which is kind of what’s nice to see,” said Tupper.

Important things to note

While the plan proposes multiple solutions to the issues that the UVSS has had with student opinion and budgeting, it’s important to recognize that only 326 users answered the survey out of 7933 undergraduate students emailed. The results of the survey tend to fish-tail at each end,  suggesting students were either very happy or very unhappy with the UVSS. Tupper believes that as more surveys go out through the year, they can get a better understanding of student’s values.

“As a one-off survey, it’s definitely not going to be a representative sample,” said Tupper.

 “Hopefully, we will get a better response rate in February at which point we will have to kind of correct for change [in response in the survey].”

Due to the length of the board term, the current board will only be serving for half of the plan’s timeline. Therefore, there’s a possibility that the new board elected next spring may have different ideals than the ones set by the current board. To leave wiggle room, most of the language used in the overarching goals of the plan is quite broad.

While the plan relies on results of the annual survey, not all student requests can be met. For example, when asked who students wanted to see on campus, the most popular answer was Green Party leader Elizabeth May. But the board’s commitment to ensuring the society remains politically non-partisan might hinder that possibility.

For more information on the Strategic Plan, visit uvss.ca/governance.

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