UCR Class of 2016
During the General Assembly (GA) on Tuesday September 17, the Housing Affairs Council (HAC) will formally propose a policy change, which obligates all students to pay a bi-annual contribution fee of €7,50. According to Maria Verwoerd, the current HAC Chair, “The HAC finds itself in a complicated situation when HAC’s, students’, and Woongoed’s interests clash.” She added by posing the question, “How can we properly defend [the students’] interests if we are dependent on the organization that financially supports us? It is hard to oppose a party you have to rely on in other matters.” This was then the conceptual basis for proposing the contribution fee.
Woongoed currently finances the HAC’s entire budget, however, over recent years they have given the HAC less and less money. “…We’re not even certain what we get as compensation from Woongoed this academic year, if [anything] at all.” explains the worried Chair. This uncertainty prompted the HAC to send a letter to Woongoed, dated September 11, 2013, in which it was urged for them to be provided “with concrete amounts that are to be budgeted for the activities and responsibilities of the HAC.” This, however, was one of several letters sent to Woongoed addressing these issues, yet the September 11 letter was the only one of such letters made public.
If the contribution fee is agreed to at the GA, the HAC will have two sources of income, which would result in a budgetary surplus. In reaction to this, Jason Houtekamer, a second-year student at University College Roosevelt (UCR), said, “I don’t see how the HAC having two sources of income will be a problem, if they know how to spend it responsibly,” yet, remarkably, only one of eight students interviewed for this article could articulate specifically what the HAC does and what they spend their money on.
When asked what the contribution fee would specifically be used for, Ms. Verwoerd answered in an unforthcoming way, “This sum will be used for all purposes that comply with our mission statement: representing students’ housing interests and thereby working to ensure the best living conditions on campus for a reasonable price.” She went on to say that if we were interested in the specifics, we should “come to the GA and have a look at [the HAC’s] budget for this academic year.”
In any case, it will be up to the HAC to explain what exactly are the students’ housing interests and how they will use the students’ money to secure those interests.