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October 5, 2014 | by  | in News |
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Land of Milk and Honey

From January to August of 2014, University-funded staff spending at Victoria’s Milk and Honey totalled an estimated $79,564.

This anticipates a full-year expenditure similar to that of 2013, which was estimated to total a whopping $164,089. The figure for 2012 was $105,478.

Both years also saw student fees increase by the set Maxima of four per cent, a percentage increase once again expected for the 2015 academic year.

This sum is solely the amount spent on the staff tab, which is reserved for staff spending in the capacity of meetings, events, and hosting guests to the University. According to a University spokesperson, this includes visitors from within New Zealand and overseas, research partners, students, and other stakeholders.

Staff are deterred from milking the privilege of on-account expenditure by the provision of University guidelines for suitable staff spending on food and beverages. It is specified that meetings must see expenditure ‘appropriate’ to the nature and purpose of the occasion in question. These guidelines largely leave this determination up to the school or individual involved.

With the yearly balance of spending, recent concerns have been raised as to the definition of ‘appropriate’. Spending is, however, checked regularly by Victoria’s finance department to ensure adherence to these guidelines.

VUWSA President Sonya Clark has expressed her concern as to the level of this area of University spending, as well as Victoria’s growing faculty behind it.

“If that figure doesn’t include catering … that seems like a lot of money to spend on lunch. But with about 2000 staff, it works out at about $80 per person, which is each staff member hosting a guest twice a year. I’m more concerned that the number seems to be rising”.

Upon Milk and Honey’s opening back in 2011, students voiced annoyance at the exclusivity of the establishment to staff and postgraduate students. One particularly peeved undergraduate student Ben Deeble had expressed his hope that “it doesn’t receive any support from VUWSA or anything that my money goes to”.

The 23 per cent of University funding derived from student fees does, however, theoretically contribute to the food and beverages purchased by staff on this tab.

Individual faculty members have denied benefiting food- or beverage-wise from staff accounts. It leaves it likely that meetings of this nature would largely involve administrative staff and guests, as well as accounting for larger events such as farewells or end-of-year functions. The University has declined to comment on the specifics of this spending.

The University does not fund any other account for staff at any other food and beverage place on its campuses.

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