It is not the place of Concordia University’s Board of Governors (BoG) to vote down the results of student referendums. At the last BoG meeting, governors voted down two fee levies that students voted in favour of during the CSU October referendum. After some discussion, the governors decided to table the fee levies to their next meeting.
One of the fees in question is the Concordian fee levy. The referendum asked students to raise the current levy from $0.07 per credit to $0.10 per credit to be collected from all undergraduate students. At this time, the Concordian only receives its $0.07 per credit fee from arts and science, fine arts and independent students. The other fee levy is for CJLO, Concordia’s radio station and they want to get their own funding, so that they can have decent and stable money coming in. They asked students for $0.10 per credit.
The BoG’s decision to vote down these fee levies shows a lack of respect for the democratic process and students, and yet they are supposed to serve the interests of Concordians. A majority of students who went to the polls voted in favour of both fee levies. The CSU referendum was legitimate, since it had quorum, which is 2.5 per cent of all undergraduate students. Chief Electoral Officer Stephan Herman, who has a vote of confidence from Rector Frederick Lowy, ran the referendum in full compliance with CSU bylaws. Then why should the BoG question the legitimacy of the referendum?
The board argued that not enough students voted in the referendum, but it is the board and the administration that contributed to having fewer students being able to cast their vote. In past elections and referendums, over 50 per cent of all votes were cast in the lobby of the Hall Building, as there is a great deal of traffic in this area. With the moratorium on all information tables in the lobby of the Hall Building students were unable to vote there. Herman asked permission to have voting booths there and on the Mezzanine, but it was denied by the administration. The administration is hypocritical when it says that student elections are not democratic enough because few students voted. Most students could not be bothered to vote and CSU elections have had low voter turn outs, but by thwarting possible student voters by banning information tables in the lobby and Mezzanine, the administration helped prevent the democratic process from being fully realized.
Why should the BoG question student fee levies now? They never have in the last three years. The BoG never questioned the Link’s fee levy increase last year, even though they asked students for $0.19 per credit from all faculties. The board voted in favour of this fee levy, which is about $100,000. Originally, the levy was $0.21 and was paid by arts and science, fine arts and independent students. On the ballot they asked students to lower their fee from $0.21 to $0.19, but in reality they were getting an increase in funding by extending their fee to engineering and computer science and John Molson School of Business students.
One of the reasons the BoG voted down the fee levy was because they thought the Concordian and CJLO are charging students too much. What about the capital campaign fee? The BoG seems to have no qualms of charging students $2 per credit, which is $60 per year if a student takes 30 credits; as compared to the Concordian’s and the CJLO’s combined fee levy of $6 a year, for 30 credits. This is not too much money.
The Concordian and CJLO need funding in order to survive and be able to function properly. The Concordian has had the same fee levy of $0.07 per credit since 1983/1984 and tried to increase its fee levy at least three times. The price of printing the paper has skyrocketed and the Concordian is unable to upgrade old, inefficient equipment, rotting desks and editors have no stools to sit on to do the layout of the newspaper.
At their next meeting, the BoG must vote in favour of both fee levies. Both institutions offer a valuable learning experience that cannot be simulated in the classroom. Should the BoG not vote in favour of the fee levies, they will be responsible for bankrupting two student organizations that provide important services to the Concordia community.