25
Jul
09

VFM and the Budget

There was an interesting omission from the AMS Budget passed a mere meeting ago. The VFM budget was slashed to less than half of the previous prize pool, causing me some consternation. Now, this consternation is not because I am a competitor in the VFM contest, though I can see how one might come to that conclusion, considering we kicked ass in last year’s election. It is, however, a question of what helps the AMS conquer the persistant problems that the society has with engagement.

I’ve sat on every VFM committee since the inception of the program. I was initially a skeptic, but I think that the experiment has proven the program to at least have some correlation with turnout and, although we have no idea as to the actual level of information that voters had when they were casting their ballots. Perhaps exit polling or something like that would be nice.

I also think that the VFM project does two other things for the AMS. One, it allows for the institution of mandatory voting in the society elections. While we are not the Calgary School Board (~3%), there are serious problems with engagement, and things like my proposed AMS Engagement Levy would be not only a good way to increase turnout, but also, when paired with VFM, ensure that that turnout is recorded. Second, the VFM project allows people to hear different perspectives about the AMS. Much as I love the Ubyssey, they are not going to take the editorial stances that more radical outlets, whether that be us, the Knoll, the DA or UBC Student Media, and it is good to have a plurality of voices on campus.

Anyway, the dissapearance of the money was a bit of a surprise. Luckily, we have a recourse. Check out this section of Code.

10. Prizes shall be awarded by the following sequence of steps:

(a) The votes shall be interpolated to allow for a graduated awards system that can more accurately reflect the relative support of each media contestant.

(b) Award money will be allocated to the media participants that:

i) is awarded in increments of $100, except in cases where this is not possible; and

ii) is proportionate to their relative levels of voter support; and

iii) does not exceed the total award pool amount of $8000.

Now, not to be curmudgeonly, but to defund the VFM program would be the elimination of a program which, in my opinion, returns much more to the AMS than $8000 worth of engagement and utility. There is a significant reason for Council to step up and ensure that the funding for VFM is returned. So, check out this Wednesday.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License, except for the exclusive commercial use of participating in the Voter Funded Media competition.

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