Of Dollars and Sense

Your Concordia Candidate Pushes for More Financial Transparency

Jordan Lindsay wants to put your money where his mouth is.

The candidate for VP Finance for the Your Concordia slate says he wants students to have as much access as possible to the Concordia Student Union’s finances.

“If students [say] ‘We want to see the backs of the cheques, too,’ I’ll do it,” said Lindsay.

Transparency is one of the main issues of this year’s Concordia Student Union elections. Both slates are pushing for reforms in the CSU to make accountability easier, especially with regards to finances.

The Action slate says it will do monthly budget updates and provide information packets to educate students about how finances work in the CSU.

Your Concordia has proposed similar ideas, but Lindsay wants to go further. His team made its campaign-spending budget available to students on the first day of campaigning. Lindsay wants to continue practices like that if elected.

“The budget lines explain only so much and the worry with the transparency is that there is stuff going on behind that budget line number that we just don’t necessarily understand,” said Lindsay in an interview with The Link.

The John Molson School of Business student is completing a minor in computer science. He hopes to use his programming knowledge to design a system for the CSU that will make raw financial data, possibly even individual requisitions, available to students online.

“For students to be able to trust the CSU, I think they should be able to […] know everything that is going on with the money,” he said.

According to Action candidate for VP Finance Tanya Ng, this type of project would require too much work and is unnecessary.

“I don’t think it would be worth the time of the VP Finance,” said Ng. “I don’t think it’s realistic. The VP Finance has a lot of work to do.”

Action presidential candidate Khalil Haddad said that any student who is interested in budget particulars can come to the CSU office to talk with the executives.

Lindsay speaks candidly about transparency and openness with students, but his ideas about policy and how to complete his projects are not yet fully formed. In the middle of explaining his hope to make financial records public online, he stops and thinks out loud in programmer’s jargon about whether what he wants is possible.

His previous business experience at the university will likely be an asset. Lindsay managed the G-Lounge, the Loyola campus cafeteria space, last year as a member of the Inter-Fraternity Council.

“He was a pleasure to work with,” said Jessica Bitton, who co-managed the G-Lounge with Lindsay. “He works really hard and does a good job.”

Lindsay and Bitton say they brought the G-Lounge out of the “financial weirdness” of the previous year, were able to pay out dividends to the IFC and left the business financially stable for the following year.

If elected, Lindsay would have to take on similar tasks with Reggie’s, historically a difficult business to manage. CUSACorp, the profit-making arm of the CSU, owns the student bar, while the VP Finance has a large role in managing it.

Lindsay proposes to subject Reggie’s to external auditing and possibly open up the financial books to students. He is also considering renegotiating the bar’s contract with Molson, if students were interested in that.

Hearing Lindsay talk, his commitment to transparency almost reaches WikiLeak-like proportions. Whether he will be able to implement these policies from both the practical and political standpoint will be answered in the elections next week.

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