My questions are more towards the impact of students rather than on whether or not Fusion Radio should have Radio Capability, as I do understand that on-air broadcasting does allow for some legitimacy of a radio organization seeking to gain reputability. I will not necessarily question this, but I do suggest alternative forms of promotion, as radio is not necessarily the best choice given the trend away from on-air broadcasting, as well as the inability to reach students by these means.
My questions are as follows:
1. If this referendum passes, do you have an estimation of what this will look like for students over the next few years? Is it possible to get a projected idea of what the Radio Capability will lead towards, in terms of student services and overall promotion of Fusion Radio?
2. Would we, as students, be able to follow along and get a bi-annual report of the proceedings and their updates, to ensure that progress is being made? Would students have access to a more in-depth query (ex. discussion with execs over documents) if they asked for one?
3. Will this increase be in place temporarily until we receive Radio Capability, or will it continue? Will there be any way to recoup the costs through sponsorships, etc? How do we minimize the effects to the students at UTSC?
Thank you for your questions.
1. An ongoing plan has been created for the near future in terms of expansion. The proposals that were approved by the Board of Directors were introduced last year, however, in light of recent information, changes and certain aspect completions, have been modified and updated. These expansion plans as well as the specific financial details that correlate with them will be presented and discussed during the referendum information event this Friday at 2pm. A copy of the presentation will be made available online this week and is currently available at our offices located in room SL213 of the student centre.
2. As students, and more importantly as members of Scarborough Campus Community Radio, you are able to inquire about any status, updates, and/or progress made on any project or plan, including general operations. We are accountable to our members (which currently only includes undergraduate full-time fee paying students at UTSC). The current executives of the Board of Directors are very open to meetings and discussions concerning Fusion Radio, and members are generally able to attend and/or submit questions/concerns to the Board of Directors, whether at meetings or via some form of communication if they feel their requests are not being being sufficiently met. Some documents (such as Board of Director meeting minutes and financial details) are available by request, and additional useful information is available online (for example our previous FM analysis and consultant report) or at our offices. Annually, we host a general meeting of members to report and discuss on recent occurrences and plans for the upcoming year. Providing more frequently packaged information for members is a goal that has been included in our expansion plans.
3. Fees generally remain until the mechanisms that allow for increases or decreases are enacted. This specific referendum process would increase the fee, however, there is nothing that prevents the fee from being lowered in the same fashion if the need for student funded levy money is no longer necessary. Part of the expansion plan is to create self-sustaining revenue streams from advertising on the radio (once we are licensed), production studio income (currently in the early stages), events and sponsorship relating to such events (we will be hosting our first event late October and hope to generate a small profit which we can re-invest in the organization). While we have endeavoured to create a payment schedule for ads, production studio usage and event models, we are not yet in a position to truly ascertain how much we can command in terms of these rates in the future. While it is difficult to determine the specific amounts we can generate, we have developed plans and programs to begin generating income to supplement and/or reduce the need for student fees specifically, while still being able to provide services and entertainment/events that are relevant to the student body and provide value to our fee-paying members. We understand that any fee increase, even a small one, impacts all students. Our goal is to increase fees to allow for expansion, begin to generate income through the expanded services, and then re-evaluate membership fees to determine if any further changes should be made.
If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to post again, check the website for more information, and/or email the Chief Returning Officer directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or the SCCR President at email@example.com
4. How will you ensure that students will feel that this is something they are willing to put their money into for the next however many years that it takes to eventually reach a point of lowering or self-sustainability?
5. How can we be sure that a fee increase of $8 per semester, making a total of $12.85 per semester per student (and an estimated $163,105.05 per semester or $489,315.15 annually from all UTSC students) will be spent in a manner that can be tracked and recognizable?
6. Would it be possible to arrange something more contractual in order to ensure that students’ money is going towards what Fusion Radio alleges that it will be going towards? Say, X amount for On-Air Radio, Y amount for scholarships, etc etc? Further, would it be possible for a commitment to this recognition to be made on behalf of Fusion Radio, and be included with the referendum?
Thank you for your questions.
To ensure that students support a fee increase, we have submitted the question of support to members for approval, and are further conducting a formal referendum to allow them to decide. In future years, general meetings where all members have a say, and Board of Directors meetings where elected representatives guide planning and implementation (but still answer to input from all members) allow for further changes to be made, including lowering the fee. Student society fees are already subject to cost-of-living increases without referendums, whereby the fees collected by student organizations are increased by small amounts to reflect inflation, or changes in the cost of expenses due to economic factors. This increase in fees via referendum would ensure we do not need such cost-of-living increases in the near future, and the receipt of additional funding by SCCR, if results in expansion to the point of self-sustainability due to additional revenue generation, would likely result in a reduction or elimination of fees at that time.
All spending done by our organization is tracked and accounted for. While the specific numbers you have used in your post are somewhat higher than the actual funding we receive currently (and with the increase), the amount of money is certainly significant enough that budgets and resolutions approved by the Board of Directors are adhered to. Although variations can be made due to specific circumstances, and sometimes fall slightly short, or go slightly over, all spending is approved by the Board of Directors and carried out by staff members who submit all related documents to the Finance Manager for approval/auditing, which then get resubmitted to the Board for oversight. Each year we are audited by an external accounting firm to ensure our funding is accounted for and accurately documented. These numbers and actual spending amounts are always presented to members at annual general meetings and routinely addressed at Board of Directors meetings when determining budgets (especially the first meeting of the year). Internal policies determine which mechanisms and reporting is required, and the University of Toronto stipulates additional requirements to ensure transparency. More on these topics can be read in our by-laws and the University’s Student Society documentation.
Our commitment to budgets and planning have always been present. Funding is allocated for spending in specific areas, for example the allocation of scholarship money and DJ reward payouts during a specified period (semestered, annually, one-time only). The projected budgeting statements determine the allocation of funding, generally for bi-annual or annual periods. Each year the budget is revisited, and changes in allocations may be made in relation to the previous budget, present circumstances, and/or directives from Board of Directors or general member resolutions. As this referendum pertains most specifically to an increase in funding for over-the-air broadcasting implementation and service expansions, our Board has already projected a budget and obtained estimates to determine where money would be spent. When we commit to a plan of action, we generally do not deviate from it unless absolutely necessary (for example, deciding to go AM instead of FM due to lack of availability of FM frequencies). Although the proposal for expansion to FM was submitted, approved, and had begun, a Board resolution discontinued spending for that specific proposal early on when it became apparent to us that the prospect of FM licensing was highly unlikely in the timeframe set forth and the funding could have been wasted. Our contingency plan identified AM licensing as a response to a saturated FM market in Toronto. Variations such as this can occur, however the budgeting and planning processes are never undertaken with any intention to not fulfill stated objective(s). Our resolutions and planning are essentially obligations that require fulfillment. You can participate in determining these plans and budgeting objectives by participating in meetings where resolutions are made on spending. If you would like to know more about financial details, please attend our information event tomorrow at 2pm in EV 151 at UTSC and/or contact the SCCR President directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions about the referendum can be addressed to the Chief Returning Officer at email@example.com
If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to send an email or make another post on this forum.