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Deadline looms for SSAF Negotiators

Less than a week from their March 4 deadline, student organisations are yet to begin negotiating the division of $14 million

Less than a week from their March 4 deadline, student organisations are yet to begin negotiating the division of $14 million

The six student organisations who have historically divided the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) are yet to meet, despite a deadline of Friday March 4 to make a joint submission that would determine the Fee’s allocation.

The Cumberland Student Guild (CSG), Students’ Representative Council (SRC), Student Support Services department of the University (SSS), Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA), Sydney University Sport and Fitness (SUSF) and University of Sydney Union (USU) will each receive a portion of the $290 fee paid by full time students this year.

The final division of the SSAF is typically negotiated between the organisations. Their failure to reach an agreement last year resulted in the University intervening for the first time and ultimately deciding the allocation. If no agreement is reached by the March 4 deadline, this will likely happen again.

Student representatives attribute the lack of negotiations to a variety of factors, including delays by the University in clarifying the total amount of funding under negotiation.

Honi understands that this figure was provided to organisations less than a week before their submissions were originally due. “Far too late,” according to SUPRA Co-President, Christian Jones, who joined other organisations in applying for an extension for March 4th.

The closest the organisations have come to negotiating was at a February 5 meeting between the SRC, USU, SUPRA and SSS, to which all organisations had been invited. SRC co-General Secretary, Georgia Mantle, described it as “quite difficult to get everyone in a room at any one time”.

Edward McMahon, USU Honorary Treasurer, said that there had been a “lack of responsiveness” from other organisations.

Jones “remains uncertain why SUSF has not been as forthcoming in the process”.

Honi understands all groups except SUSF expressed a desire for more transparent negotiations in discussions at a Student Consultative Committee meeting on February 9. SUSF allegedly cited the possibility of Honi reporting on funding projects as their reason for secrecy.

“What we’re looking for is a more frank disclosure from the negotiating parties about how what they do is worthy of money compulsorily collected from students,” McMahon said.

$1.39 million of the $14 million collected this year is being contested by the organisations under a funding model introduced in 2015 which guarantees each organisation 90 per cent of their allocation from the preceding year.

Honi understands that the organisations have undertaken to meet early this week to begin discussions.

SUSF, CSG and SSS were unable to comment in time for publication.

As then Co-General Secretary of the SRC, Max Hall was involved in 2015 SSAF negotiations.