The mood was tense when the Welfare Council of Oslo and Akershus held their yearly meeting Monday 16 Oct. Each year the Welfare Council decides how the semester fee fund will be allocated to various student groups.
A recommendation had been made by the Executive Committee prior to the meeting, but major changes were made from the original proposal.
«If we say that Universitas should cut their total number of issues, we should also say SBiO (the BI Student Society) can cut some of their events,» Jonas Virtanen from A-list (the Labor Party equivalent in student parliament) said. This was in response to a BI representative proposing heavy cuts to Universitas in favor of student associations at BI.
Budget increase was proposed
In their recommendation, the Welfare Council Executive Committee proposed a budget of 18,015,00 NOK, a significant increase from the year before.
Elisabeth Holien, President of the Welfare Council, says the increase was due to an increased need coming from applicants.
«We want to give more money to applicants who have applied to us, both directly and through the Cultural Board,» she said.
The Executive Committee ended up suggesting a NOK 350,000 increase to the budget.
But it was not to be. The Executive Committee advises on the allocation, but the student representatives make the final decision. In a move to reprioritize and make changes, there was several cuts.
Universitas and SBiO were heavily affected, with both losing NOK 200,000 from what they were originally proposed to receive.
Birk Tjeldflaat Helle, Editor in Chief at Universitas, was highly critical of the dramatic cuts to the student newspaper, and fears it will result in fewer paper editions.
«The cuts from the Welfare Council are unacceptable, and hit us hard,» he said. «Since 2012 we’ve eliminated job positions, decreased pay, and lowered the number of paper editions we produce, at a savings of NOK 769,000. We’ve also worked hard to keep advertisers. For the student representatives to punish us for all this good work is completely bewildering.»
Andreas Kustås, President of SBiO, was also open with his dissatisfaction.
«When we get so little, compared to how much we applied for, it’s hard to say we’re satisfied with the outcome,» he wrote in a message to Universitas.
DNS and OSI satisfed
The Norwegian Students Society (DNS) and Oslo Student Sports Club (OSI) were the decided winners during the allocation. The Welfare Council chose to increase funding for both groups by NOK 250,000. BI Athletics received a NOK 50,000 increase, and both Juss-Buss and JURK (Legal advice organization for women) received NOK 100,000 more.
Cecilie Kappelslåen, board leader in OSI, was grateful for this year’s allocation, and said she was grateful that the Council recognized OSI’s value and hard work. Still, there was some disappointment.
«It’s not quite right to say we received an increase in funding when we got NOK 250,000 less than we applied for,» she said.
«Our goal and hope is of course that we can keep growing so more students can take advantage of what we offer,» she added. «This year’s allocation gives us the opportunity to start that work.»
Trygve Bernhardt Moen Haalend, Foreman for the Norwegian Students Society (DNS), was positive toward the allocation, although like OSI, DNS did not receive the full amount of funding they applied for.
«The Welfare Council took an important step in the right direction for Norway’s student capital city,» he said.