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Student Association Accountability Policy

Classification number LCG 1117
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Board of Governors
Policy owner Vice-President, Academic and Provost
Approval date March 11, 2015
Review date March 2018
Last updated Editorial Amendments, February 18, 2020

Purpose

Student Associations are recognized by the University as autonomous entities that play a key role in representing the interests and perspective of the University's students. The University voluntarily collects fees on behalf of each recognized Student Association in order to fund Student Association activities.  The University agrees to collect such fees on the understanding and with the expectation that any Student Association in receipt of such fees accepts the responsibility to the University's students to use those fees in an accountable, open and transparent manner.  The purpose of the Student Association Accountability Policy is to clearly articulate Student Association obligations within a policy framework such that any Student Association that represents University students clearly understands the conditions under which the flow of fees to Student Associations will be maintained.

Definitions

For the purposes of this Policy the following definitions apply: 

Ancillary Fee” means a fee that is:

  • Compulsory and non-tuition related;
  • Levied by the University above and beyond tuition; and
  • That a student must pay to enrol in, and successfully complete, University degree courses or programs.

 “Student Association” means a student organization that:

  • Represents all students enrolled in a major segment of the University, or across multiple Faculties and programs (e.g. all undergraduate, graduate, or part-time students); and
  • Is recognized by the University under the Policy on the Recognition of Student Organizations

Student Association Fees” means Ancillary Fees collected by the University on behalf of a Student Association, including those resulting from referenda sponsored, or co-sponsored, by the Association.

Student Group” means any society, club or other type of student-formed organization that is duly constituted and recognized by a Student Association.  

Scope and authority

This Policy applies to Student Associations as recognized under the University's Policy on the Recognition of Student Organizations, as amended.  

The Policy Owner is the Provost and Vice-President Academic, or successor thereof, who will be responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of a Policy Instrument.   

An Advisory Committee is hereby established.  The Advisory Committee is responsible for adherence to this Policy.  The Advisory Committee will be comprised of representatives of the Student Association and the University as set out in the Advisory Committee Terms of Reference. Terms of Reference are set out in Appendix A of this Policy.

Policy

This Policy sets out the governance, financial and organizational requirements that a Student Association must meet in order to demonstrate accountability. 

Student Association Accountability Requirements

  1. Governance Requirements

    A Student Association will have in place a constitution and/or by-laws that provide for good governance, transparency, representation and democratic practice.  At minimum, the constitution and/or bylaws will include provisions for:

    1. Maintaining appropriate representation of students.  This means:

      • at least fifty percent (50%) of elected positions set out in the composition of the Student Association will be filled at any given time. 
      • any vacancies in elected positions will be filled in an expeditious manner according to the processes set out for electing members of the Association.
      • where an Association is representative of students from both the University and Durham College, students from each institution must constitute fifty percent (50%) of the total filled positions, excluding the President, at any given time.

    2. Democratic governance practices.

    3. Student Association records to be made available for examination by members of the Association, including all agendas and minutes, budgets, financial records and reports.

  2. Financial Requirements

    A Student Association will have in place policies and procedures that provide for the maintenance of adequate financial systems and records and the proper accounting of funds.  At minimum, policies and procedures will include provisions for:

    1. Financial and accounting practices that follow generally accepted accounting principles.

    2. Regular financial reporting to the bodies of the Student Association and for financial records to be made available for examination by members of the Student Association.

    3. An annual audit to be completed by an independent auditor licensed under the Public Accountancy Act as amended or succeeded.

    4. Where applicable, the redistribution of Student Association Fees to Student Groups, including requirements for the timely distribution and appropriate use of those funds.

    5. Insurance coverage that is adequate for the activities and events of the Student Association, and that includes the University as an additional insured party with respect to these activities and events.

  3. Organizational Requirements

    A Student Association will have in place a constitution, by-laws and/or policies that provide for an organizational structure that supports effective decision-making and promotes stability and continuity.   At minimum, the constitution, by-laws and/or policies will include provisions for:

    1. Clearly documented roles and responsibilities of Board members, executive officers, and senior administrative staff.

    2. The recognition of Student Groups and the governance and operations of those Groups.

    3. Workplace policies and procedures that are consistent with University policies and procedures, as amended.

    4. The expeditious consideration of complaints from members of the Student Association that it is not following its constitution or is failing in some other way to properly manage its affairs.

University- Student Association Operating Agreement

  1. The University will have an Operating Agreement with a Student Association that sets out the respective responsibilities of the University and the Association, including the exchange of information required by the University and the Student Association to implement the requirements of this Policy, the timelines for this exchange of information, and the schedule for the disbursement of Student Association Fees.  If the University is unable to conclude such an agreement after making reasonable efforts to do so, the University will establish procedures for the implementation of this Policy.

Student Association Fee Collection and Disbursement

  1. Student Association Fees are established or changed in accordance with the University's Compulsory Ancillary Fee Protocol,and any amendments or successor thereto.

  2. The University assesses and collects all Student Association Fees in accordance with its fee regulations and policies and at no charge to the Student Association. 

  3. The University will transfer Student Association Fees to a Student Association provided it meets and maintains the requirements set out in this Policy and the respective University-Student Association Operating Agreement.    

  4. The University will transfer Student Association Fees to a Student Association according to the disbursement schedule set out in the University-Student Association Operating Agreement. 

Complaints of Irregularities

  1. The University reserves the right to investigate any allegation or complaint that a Student Association is not acting in a manner that is consistent with its own governing documents or University policy. 

  2. The Provost and Vice-President Academic, or delegate, will be responsible for the investigation of complaints.  A Student Association will be informed of the allegations in writing, along with details of the alleged inadequacies in the Association’s conduct, and given the opportunity to comment upon the allegations.

  3. The University may apply sanctions or withhold Student Association Fees at its sole discretion where it determines in good faith that a Student Association is failing to meet the requirements set out in this Policy, the University-Student Association Operating Agreement and/or the Policy on the Recognition of Student Organizations.

  4. Sanctions will be in place or funds withheld until such time that a Student Association is able to satisfactorily address the deficiencies or they cease to be recognized as a Student Association by the University. 

Monitoring and review

This Policy will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years.  The Assistant Vice-President, Student Life, or successor thereof, is the Policy Lead and is responsible to monitor and review this Policy.

Relevant legislation

Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines for Publically-assisted Universities, Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

Related policies, procedures & documents

Policy on the Recognition of Student Organizations

Compulsory Ancillary Fee Protocol

Student Conduct Policy

Student Association Operating Agreement(s)

Appendix A

STUDENT ASSOCIATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE 

TERMS OF REFERENCE

  1. Mandate
    The Student Association (“SA”) and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology ("the University") will establish a Student Association Advisory Committee (“Advisory Committee”) that is responsible for providing oversight and guidance to the SA concerning the governance, financial and operational requirements as set out by the University, and the implementation of all agreements that pertain to the Student Association.  The Advisory Committee will also consider any other such matters that are delegated to it.    

    Specifically, the Advisory Committee shall have the following responsibilities:

    1. Ensuring compliance with the Student Association Accountability Policy and all other agreements between the SA and the University

    2. Reviewing the strategic vision and goals of the SA and the University and exploring how the respective parties can facilitate their achievement

    3. Reviewing the annual audited financial statements, notes and management letter of the SA as soon as they become available

    4. Reviewing changes to the SA’s constitution, by-laws, policies, procedures

    5. Reviewing contracts, agreements and major sponsorship and activities in which the University may have a significant liability interest (e.g. Health Plan)

    6. Sharing and communicating new business initiatives prior to implementation to promote complementary services and minimize prejudicial competition

  2. Meetings
    The Committee shall meet at least three times each academic year. 

  3. Membership
    The Committee shall be comprised of:

        STUDENT ASSOCIATION

THE UNIVERSITY

SA President (Co-Chair)

University Provost and VP Academic or delegate (Co-Chair)

University Member of the SA Executive

Representative from University Registrar’s Office

University Member of the SA Board

Representative from University Finance

SA Staff Member (non-voting)

Student Life Staff Member (non-voting)

The Advisory Committee reserves the right to appoint other members as it deems necessary in order to fulfill its mandate.