Home CommentaryStudent Life A referendum to eliminate the SAF

A referendum to eliminate the SAF

by Archives October 28, 2008

“Student money should go to student projects, and right now it’s not,” said CSU VP external Colin Goldfinch during a special meeting in October. Claiming student-developed sustainability projects are being taken over by the university, the student council voted to put the SAF fee levy to a referendum.
“This goes against the mandate of the program that students voted for,” CSU VP Communications Elie Chivi said. “This is exactly like if Chartwells started collecting money from the People’s Potato to fund a vegan menu for students,” he said. “It may be a good initiative on paper, but the students shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the university’s projects.”
Chivi referred specifically to R4 Compost as an example of students paying for administrative projects. “The facility was given more than $30,000 worth of funding from student money,” he said. “The university should not have to use students as a crutch to pay for their inability to prioritize their funds appropriately.”
Chris Mota, director of media relations at Concordia, acknowledged administration received funding from the SAF, but said the university applied for the projects the same way any other group would have.
Stuart said the SAF doesn’t treat the university differently than any other group on campus. The SAF’s goal is to provide funds for sustainability projects. “The projects that SAF funds are informed by public consultations,” she said. “All applicants are required to present their project to the public and answer any questions the community may have.” All funding decisions are made by a majority vote of student representatives who sit on the board.
Still, the CSU wants student money to go directly to students. “If Concordia needs more money to finance sustainable projects,” Chivi said, “then everyone should simply stop pretending this is a student fee levy.”
During the referendum this week, students will be asked, for the second time in as many years, whether they support the SAF fee levy.
The aftermath of a vote in favour of ending the fee levy and, therefore, dissolving the SAF, is uncertain.
Current and on-going projects might suffer, depending when the fee levy is terminated. The provincial government took note after the SAF made a five-year commitment to the compost facility. The long-term commitment from the SAF secured funding from the government of Quebec, donating a total of $118,700 to sustainability at Concordia.
In the event the SAF is dissolved, the funding from the government will be jeopardized. “Students stand to lose this provincial funding if the fee levy is eliminated,” Mota said.
The CSU is committed to ensuring environmentally and ecologically friendly projects continue at Concordia. “If students vote to remove this initiative, then the idea is to create a fund that is directly managed by students representing or currently involved in all the faculty associations and the CSU,” Chivi said.
With the SAF fee levy being put to referendum, the decision now lies in the hands of the students.
“It’s very powerful for students to take ownership of the projects we’re funding,” Stuart said. “For students to say so resoundingly ‘This is important to us and we’re going to use our own money to make sure everybody knows that.'”
Mota said it’s not the university’s place to comment on the referendum, but added, “Students at this university are very bright. It’s up to them to decide.”

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