NUGSS in the Red
Prince George, B.C. – Some major changes are coming to the way the Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS) is managed.
This in light of an audit earlier this month that revealed the UNBC student run society is $100,000 in debt.
President Arctica Cunningham admits she was “rather surprised” by the audit noting some subsequent research revealed some “very troubling financial trends.”
“And what we’ve distilled is that we have both a short-term and a long-term problem,” she says. “The short-term is the $100,000 debt which has basically been caused, to quote our auditors, by “a perfect storm of everything going wrong in one year.”
For example, bad weather leading to several NUGSS’s events being unsuccessful and losing money. This, plus their health and dental plan costs are more than they collect in fees.
Thus, Cunningham says NUGSS has had “to cover that difference.”
“So what’s happened is we’ve been floating our services with fees that should have been put into reserve funds, or funds to plan for the future and we’ve been doing that for years. We don’t have anything to dip into at this time to cover those costs from unexpected expenditures.”
She says it’s symptomatic of a “long-term problem” of poor financial planning.
“So whenever we had surplus amounts of money from the health and dental fees, from our building fees, rather than putting them into reserve funds to plan for those times when we were providing more services than could be supported by the fees we were collecting, we just put it into our general revenue and increased the amount of services we were providing.
“So very unstable and it led to this issue where we now have to figure out how to get ourselves back on a more sustainable path.”
Unfortunately, she says that means taking some tough steps to stem all the red ink, including:
- Cut funding to NUGSS clubs by 20%.
- Reducing honorariums by 7.27%
- Their general manager has taken a voluntary pay cut of 20%
Sadly, Cunningham says one long-term solution may end up in the closure of the Thirsty Moose Pub.
“It’s been open for six years now and every year we’ve lost money. Last year we lost $40,000 which is a lot considering that we have to make that up by taking it out of the student fees that we’re collecting.”
She says they hope to save it by leasing it out by next September.
“And if we’re not successful in leasing it out there is a strong possibility that we won’t be reopening because we just can’t continue losing money.”
In the meantime, Cunningham says NUGSS has some sessions planned to consult with their membership.
“They’ve been reaching out with some great ideas. They don’t want to see our services cut, they don’t want to see us struggling or see the society in jeopardy.”