Starting Tuesday, students have the opportunity, for three days, to vote on three Concordia Student Union fee levy questions and two by-law modifications. Fee levies are per-credit surcharges, tacked on to tuition, which help fund student and campus-run groups.
In order to initiate or increase a fee levy, groups must receive approval from student council. With council’s approval to have a question put to referendum, groups begin a campaign to earn student support. The CSU usually holds one referendum per semester.
A $1 per credit fee levy will increase services at the downtown Webster library, and be in effect for 10 years. This would amount to $509,304 per year, or just under $5.1 million over the course of 10 years.
This money would go toward funding 24-hour access to the library, more course material on reserve and more laptops for loan. The CSU administered a survey in September, asking students whether they supported these library initiatives. CSU president Amine Dabchy, while presenting the survey results during the September council meeting, said an overwhelming majority of students supported the initiatives. Though 36,000 students received the survey, about 2,700, or 8 per cent, responded. The survey neglected any mention of cost.
Currently, the library only has 24-hour access during specific, peak periods of the school year.
Concordia’s student broadcasting corporation is looking to have its fee levy increase by 9 cents per credit, which would double its current fee levy. The question also stipulates that the increase would become effective as of next semester. Last year, students each paid $2.16 to CUTV. If this question is passed, students next year will pay $4.32.
CUTV’s current budget is at $59,304, according to a document submitted for council’s consideration at the October meeting. The student group’s proposed budget is $117,968. The proposed budget shows increases in every salary and honorarium (except public relations) and the creation of four paid positions. The two budgets also suggest a desire to increase production funding, with a proposed increase of $15,700.
CUTV’s push last year to increase its fee levy was rejected by then-council members.
The Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore is asking students to approve its first-ever fee levy, at an amount of 9 cents per credit. The bookstore is also asking that the levy be adjusted annually, according to the Consumer Price Index of Montreal as calculated by the CSU. The CPI of Montreal increased steadily between 2002 and 2008. The bookstore is currently in debt to the CSU, the government and an anonymous lender. Financial troubles began when the store’s volunteer accountant failed to keep its books up-to-date. Though still in debt, the bookstore’s manager, Larissa Dutil, has said finances are on the mend. Dutil made an assurance, however, that funds gained from a fee levy would not be used directly to pay off debt. The Co-op, a non-profit organization that sells items below the suggested retail price, is run independently of the university.
Only one referendum was held during the 2008-2009 school year. The executive cancelled the October vote after questions were raised regarding its legitimacy prompted a group of students to take the matter to court.
One student filed an injunction to stop the referendum. While in court, the executives announced they had decided to cancel the poll altogether.
In February, the People’s Potato was the only group given approval to put a fee levy increase to referendum. Requests from CUTV and the Co-op Bookstore were denied.
The People’s Potato won its campaign, and increased its fee levy by 10 cents, bringing it to 37 cents per credit. The increase was also approved to be adjusted annually to the Consumer Price Index of Montreal, meaning the amount is liable to change without students voting on it.