What is the USESF?
The University of Saskatchewan Engineering Students' Fund (USESF) is an endowment fund designed to "advance the engineering undergraduate student experience by distributing funds to student groups and individuals within the engineering undergraduate community."
How is it funded?
The USESF is an endowment fund, which means that it would be comprised of two accounts: one that acts as "savings" and collects interest, and another that will be distributed each year ('spending'). The USESF would be funded by a $20/term student fee, an annual $20,000 donation from the College of Engineering, and other donations from alumni and supporters.
Of your $20, half of your fee ($10) would be put into the endowment fund to collect interest, and the other half would be put into the spending account to distribute to applicants that year. The donation from the college would be distributed each year (not put into 'savings'), and alumni would choose to either endow their donation or put it towards the year's spending. The interest collected each year from the endowment fund would be transferred into the 'spending' account to be distributed along with the other funds.
How much money do we expect to bring in?
We're talking big. If the referendum passes, the USESF will be able to distribute at least $52,000 next year. That's more than $30,000 more than we currently distribute to students. In 10 years, we'd be able to pass out at least $72,000, and in 20 years it would be at least $106,000. This growth is from the collected interest, and these numbers don't account for donations from alumni (meaning - we could be able to spend even more than these projected numbers!).
Many alumni have caught wind of our efforts for setting up the find, and they have already expressed interest in making donations (such as the Class of '79).
Who's in charge of the fund, and how would the money be distributed?
The funding distribution would be similar to the current system of the Student Activities Fund (SAF). The money would be governed by the Council, which is comprised of a variety of student leaders:
- 3 discipline society/professional association leaders
- 2 design team leaders
- 2 general undergraduate student leaders (not involved with any student groups)
- 1 SESS executive representative.
The USESF meetings would be chaired by the SESS president, with the Executive Assistant to the Dean acting as secretary, but these two positions do not have voting rights.
Students and student groups would be able to apply for funding to reimburse any costs spent in the current fiscal year (May 1st to April 30th). Students could also apply for funding to cover costs that have not yet been spent, but the applicant would not receive funding until a receipt is submitted. Application forms and funding would be released each term, and the applicant would be encouraged to do a small presentation to the Council on where the money will be directed and why they deserve to receive funding.
Why are we changing from the SAF?
The College of Engineering currently donates $20,000 annually to the Students’ Activity Fund (SAF). This is a fund that students and student groups can apply for to advance their projects, cover travel costs for conferences/competitions, help pay for space refurbishment (e.g., lounge upgrades), and many other things. This is distributed bi-annually by the Board of Directors, comprised of discipline society presidents and a few executive members of the SESS.
With over 20 student groups - without even mentioning applications for conferences, hosting events, and academic resources - this amount isn't adequate to allow students to grow and strive for greater goals. Furthermore, the Board of Directors does not have any representatives from design teams, professional associations, and general unaffiliated students; this leaves them without a direct say in where the funds are distributed.
With the USESF, we would be able to fund larger events, more competitive projects, and increase the accessibility of funding to individual students. Also, with the organization of the Council as it is now, there would be better representation for design teams and students unaffiliated with a student group or society.
If the referendum passes, the SAF will be dissolved and the annual $20,000 donation from the college will be redirected into the USESF each year.
USESF Forum - Minutes
The Benefits of the USESF
The USESF strengthens student groups.More funds available means that student groups and discipline societies wouldn't be restricted in their goals and vision. Groups could broaden their goals, achieve larger things, and become even more competitive.
- Better materials, technology, and investment for project builds
- Reimbursment travel to competitions, events, and conferences
- Larger budget for hosting events (fancier venues, inviting special guests, etc.)
- Starting new student groups and societies
The USESF supports individuals.
However, you wouldn't need to be involved in any extracurriculars to benefit from the fund. The USESF would be accessible and unbiased towards individual applications, and so any student could utilize it. Individuals could receive:
- Free/affordable tutoring and academic aid
- Reimbursement for travel costs to engineering conferences and delegate fees
- Valuable professional networking opportunities
- Anything else that would support you in your academic and professional development as a uSask engineer!
The USESF can change our college.
By starting this fund this year, we could build huge sums of money that, in future years, could be used to:
- Refurbish student lounges, computer labs, the library, and the general college
- Hire more academic advisors, mental health staff, professors, and support staff
- Strengthen the reputation of uSask engineering
Many other universities across Canada have employed a similar student fund (some of them have been around for decades), all with great amounts of success. For example, UBC Vancouver donated over $2,560,000 from their student fund to contribute to the construction of an engineering student center building, which is a space used by students to study, relax, and destress. This decision was made entirely by their council - by students, for students.
Note that all of the above benefits are just examples. The USESF could reimburse any project or cost that furthers the academic or professional development of students as engineers. With the USESF, we would have the power to take initiative and funnel money to where we deem it's needed. By voting yes in the upcoming referendum, you are promising that future generations of uSask engineers would have the resources needed to thrive.
The referendum opens on February 10th at 9:00am. Voting closes at 11:59pm on February 12th.
You'll be greeted with the following question:
Do you approve of the implementation of the University of Saskatchewan Engineering Students’ Fund (USESF), funded by a mandatory $20/term fee from each engineering undergraduate student?”
Results will be posted about a week following the end of the referendum. Remember to encourage others to be informed about the USESF and to vote in the referendum!