An outside organization can now ask UBC to take on its deficits

As the University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA) reworks its governance structure, a new clause in its agreement with UBC says that the UNA can ask the university to take on the association’s deficits.

The new UBC–UNA agreement has changed the two UBC-appointed directors on the UNA board to non-voting observers as the UNA restructures its board of directors to be entirely elected. In exchange, UBC has gained increased control over the UNA’s financial decisions.

The clause states that the UNA’s annual budget, financial reserve policies and other related financial activities will all require approval from UBC.

“Specifically, if the UNA incurs a deficit, they may ask UBC to cover the deficit, and if UBC agrees, the amount will be repayable to UBC in the subsequent fiscal year(s) that the UNA has a surplus, unless otherwise specified,” reads the agreement summary. The agreement does not mention which UBC body will make the decisions.

If UBC decides not to approve a UNA budget after discussion with the association, the UNA must provide an amended version to the university for approval, effectively giving UBC veto power over the UNA budget.

Michael White, associate vice-president of Campus & Community Planning, explained that this financial oversight change is part of an effort to find common ground between UBC and the UNA.

But what about the statement that UBC may be asked to take on UNA’s deficits, if there is one?

“It’s up to UBC to decide how and when there would be financial assistance for the UNA,” said White. “If they end up being in that circumstance, they would have to ask UBC for assistance and that’s up to UBC to decide. So there is no commitment right now.”

However, it’s unclear under what circumstance UBC would agree to take on the deficit. White explained that UBC would assess the situation at the time when the UNA raised such a request. Decisions of providing assistance would be made “on a case-by-case basis.” With no pre-set specification, this part in the agreement left room for flexibility in future decision-making.

The UNA did not provide comment after multiple email requests.

Also unspecified is how repayment would be enforced if UBC were indeed to cover a UNA deficit. However, in the agreement “there is a requirement [for the UNA] to pay that back in the future,” said White.

As to what the future holds for these two parties, White said that UBC would maintain its partnership with the UNA based on their mutual interests.

“UBC wants to ensure the success of the UNA. It’s a very important part of the community,” he said.

“UBC will continue to work to support the success of the UNA like what we’ve done over the years, so we look forward to working with the UNA in the years to come and continue to make the UBC neighbourhood such a great place to live.”