Breaking the disappointment cycle

By Elias Ayoub

USA President

This is my fourth year in student government. I’ve seen everything from complete incompetency to effective legislative advocacy and policy-making. The most frustrating thing to experience, though, is what I call the revolving door of issues, where a problem captures student interest, fades away, and then captures the spotlight once more.

The outrage directed at the Travel Team epitomizes this issue, becoming a problem when frustration rears its head once more. Part of the reason I am writing in this week is to assure the reader that the Undergraduate Student Association has heard the dissatisfaction voiced in The Griffin and is endeavoring to resolve the tension.

The truth of the matter is that our appeal process has made it difficult to fairly assess the Travel Team. Due to communication obstacles within the iron triangle comprised of Student Life, Club E-Boards, and forms of the USA composite, travel appeals have existed as arduously long processes.

As a result, Travel Team quotes quickly become outdated, extending beyond their brief three-day lifespan. This further complicates the matter, for the newer quote is generally significantly higher, which causes considerable consternation for the club and the Senate.

Clearly, something needs to be done. I firmly believe that the answer is not, as some would suggest, to completely throw away the practice of using the Travel Team. From the College’s perspective, a few saved dollars is not worth the risk to student safety and experience abroad. I myself have been bailed out by the Travel Team at 3a.m., when my plane broke down in Mombasa, Kenya.  From the USA perspective, there are always club presidents who fail to attend to details and would undoubtedly cause budgetary issues if booking travel was left completely to students.

The proper way to solve this issue is to apply pressure when appropriate. After conversations with our Vice President of Business and Finance, Jeffrey Spencer, and Vice President of Student Organizations, Jerry Daigler, the travel appeal system will undergo a major overhaul in the coming weeks. The redesign allows us to pass budgets based on up-to-date price quotes and mandate that the club book the trip within the quote’s lifespan.

The benefits of this are twofold. First, it streamlines a complex and irritating budget process for clubs, and, second, it allows us to accurately assess whether or not there is a systemic pattern of negligence and malfeasance on the part of the Travel Team. All that we have now as a student body are unsupported suspicions.

With the new appeal system, travel will be booked with accurate quotes and will clarify whether the Travel Team is inefficient or counter to the best interests of students. If that is the case, the full might of the Undergraduate Student Association will be thrown against the issue. Meeting with Dr. Mangione just a few days ago, she confirmed that the administration would stand by the students in demanding better service if such a pattern of abuse is detected.

The new appeal system is undergoing some final adjustments and tweaks, but we hope that it permanently addresses the concerns raised in this paper in the past few weeks and in the past few years. If not, we will stand together and demand better service. It’s very important to me, and to USA more broadly, that before we make claims against the policies of the school, we must understand the nature of the issue completely. Only in this way can we affect real change, and only this way can we best serve the interests of the Canisius College undergraduate community.

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