HAC Proposes a Bi-Annual Contribution Fee: Who and What Will it Benefit?

By Jonathan
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.

 

5 thoughts on “HAC Proposes a Bi-Annual Contribution Fee: Who and What Will it Benefit?

  1. Dear Paul, Anon, Jonathan, readers,
    First of all, thank you for voicing your concerns. Obviously we need to guarantee transparency and communicate well what our intentions are. There’s a few things I’d like to comment on:

    – HAC is trying to be as transparent as can be. I answered Jonathan’s question what the money would be used for the way I did, simply because I don’t think a tabula rasa article is the right platform to communicate this – that is the GA, yet anyone having questions is always welcome to question us personally or via email about our finances. We had very fair reasons putting this to a vote at the GA, which you would have known if you had been there, and now will be able to read in the minutes.

    – Anon, that most people don’t know is not something you can blame us for now. We communicated that we wanted to propose this change at the GA. It is your responsibility as a member to read on this and inform yourself too. We surely listen to the students we represent and therefore the vote has been extended to another GA. If you don’t know what the HAC does, I would encourage you to read our policy manual or to ask us about it. Even though we might not be as visible as RASA for example, our work is done in the background and often concerns confidential matters.

    – Lastly, of course it is important that students stay informed about these kind of issues. Yet, it is your responsibility as a member to show up at GA’s if you want your voice to be taken into account as well.

    I’m writing this post not to initiate a whole new debate here. We had a surprisingly good meeting with Woongoed this morning, on which we are now writing a summary to inform the whole student body. The HAC board has been elected to represent your interest and the main task of the daily board is to keep the long term vision in mind, which we are working incredibly hard for. I ask you for the trust you gave us when the UCR student body elected us, especially since we have shown yesterday that the GA has a great influence by postponing the vote on this matter. Hope to have informed you sufficiently, and may you have any questions, I encourage you to sen dan e-mail to [email protected]

  2. @Jonathan

    Thanks for the update. Moreover, thanks a lot for this article. It is really important that students stay informed about stuff like this – before students end up paying an extra fee, passed by a GA at which they may not even have been present.
    Journalism as it is supposed to be.
    Keep up the good work!

  3. Anon,

    The motion to refer this to another GA has been passed with a overwhelming majority. Therefore the contribution fee will not be in effect now. There has also been a vote that, hypothetically spoken, IF the HAC does not get any money from Woongoed in the near future, if we would be willing to pay a contribution fee. 43 students have voted in favour, 6 against and 10 abstained, which means that 72% of the students present voted in favour.

    Jonathan

  4. I agree completely with PvdB. If the HAC wants us to vote on this at the GA tonight, then they should give us a full report before hand so that we can make an informed decision. Most people don’t know that this is going on, and so cannot have an opinion on the matter which is unfair as it is our money we’re dealing with. Furthermore, this should have been told to every student, and authorization ballots should be made available. I, for one, along with many other students cannot make it tonight and will therefore not be able to cast a vote on the matter which I am rather angry about. I don’t think they need our money at all, to be honest, I don’t even know what they could use it for as in many of our eyes we don’t even know what they do.

  5. Given the fact that Maria campaigned on a platform of “transparency”, her vague answer is rather ironic! I believe that a more thorough explanation must be given before HAC can expect students to give up €15 a year – multiplied by 600 students this would make €9000 a year, is it too much to ask what that money will be used for?

    Moreover, the students have been paying for HAC’s budget since RA/UCR’s inception – indirectly, by paying rent to Woongoed. At the very least, students’ rent should go down €15 a year if HAC wants to charge students this extra fee.

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