Japan club denied funding

The nuances of KSA planning tools and KSA council.

This is a pencilled illustration of characters, in a comic-style fashion, having dinner at a table.

Hira Matharoo / The Runner

By Kier-Christer Junos [contributing editor]

The Kwantlen Student Association recently declined the KPU Japan Club’s appeal for $450—which would have seen the club out to a downtown dinner—on the concern of “sending people to a dinner if there wasn’t an educational experience or other purpose,” according to Nov. 20 executive committee minutes.

The event outline portion of the Japan Club’s planning tool reads: “Cultural and language exchange for domestic Japan Club members, current exchange students, and those interested in becoming Japan Club members. Current members will use the opportunity to plan upcoming Japan Club event projected for Spring 2015.”

“For me, when I saw that planning tool,” says KSA vice-president of student life Eric Wirsching, “It was kind of like, well, is this something we can do for all clubs? Can we send all of our clubs to dinner downtown? Is this something we want to start doing? I thought the answer to that was no—although there is value in team-building exercises.”

Wirsching says that while it’s infeasible to send entire clubs out for dinner, it’s necessary that resources are made available to clubs for team building, “especially for the executives who are doing more of the day-to-day work for the club,” he adds.

In an October KSA council meeting, however, $1,722 was budgeted to send the KSA council to Fright Nights and out for dinner. Wirsching concedes that, when comparing the two team-building events, sending council to Fright Nights could be construed as unfair. But ultimately, Wirshing says the differences—which prompt the budgeting for Fright Nights—exists in the level of responsibility between clubs and KSA council.

“Council has a whole other level of responsibility,” he says. “We’re responsible for the entire society. The only times we really see each other is when we do our orientation; we do a whole weekend of educational kind of stuff, and more team building kind of stuff in the evening. So we went to Whistler this year. We all lived in houses together for three days, we got to know each other.” He says team-building events are held away from KPU so councillors actually attend.

“We approve club money,” adds Wirsching. “Clubs aren’t spending student money all the time. Council, on the other hand, has to make tough decisions on when external partners come to us and ask us for money . . . it’s just a different level of responsibility.” Wirsching says that the purpose of clubs is to fill the social gaps and niches that the KSA can’t fulfill all the time because of day-to-day operations and limited staff.

The Japan Club’s vice-president Kimberley McMartin maintains that while it’s regrettable that their planning tool wasn’t approved, the KSA’s choice made sense.

McMartin also serves as a KSA councillor, and she seconds the difference that Wirsching describes between the two factions: “One, [the Japan Club doesn’t] make any money. Two, we are only responsible for ourselves and the Japan Club. And three, we can change our damn minds whenever we want.”

“With council, we’re a little more responsible, we’re a little bit more outgoing – we have to get to know each other and trust each other,” she adds. “So I can see why they’re doing it, and it has helped.”

“I don’t think [perks] should be expected,” says Wirsching, “But think we all—especially the four of us here, executives—we really want to see council behave professionally and be agreeable with each other. And this is all budgeted for, we’re pulling money from, I forget what the line item is, but it’s from the HR worksheet. We set money aside to throw Christmas parties for staff – it’s all about morale, right? And the same thing applies to council.”

Indeed, the KSA’s team-building excursions are budgeted for. KSA president Jessica Lar-Son stresses the importance of team-building events outside of work: “There are funds that are specifically put aside for what I would call, team-building. And that team building can be social and recreational. The reason for that is so we can have healthy working relationships. It’s important for us to work on both personal and collective well being, and when we have these more social events, we’re able to talk about important things in a less formal setting.”

Wirsching says that if council exclusively does meetings—what he calls “these sort of high tension situations, even if [council is] generally agreeable,”—tension can build among councillors.

“And I think the purpose of those events,” says Wirsching, “is to kind of bring it back to casual agreeable situations so we all remember we’re all part of a team.”


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