Home Opinions A letter from Concordia’s Fee Levy Groups

A letter from Concordia’s Fee Levy Groups

by The Concordian March 11, 2014
A letter from Concordia’s Fee Levy Groups

Support Concordia Fee Levy Groups!

(Student supporters of fee levy groups have started a “Vote No to the per-faculty fee levy referendum committee”. They are independent of the fee levy groups and you can visit their website here: www.ConcordiaCommunity.org or like their facebook page: www.facebook.com.ConcordiaCommunity.)

Dear members of the Concordia community, especially undergraduate students from all faculties and departments –

There are many parts that go into making Concordia’s campus culture interesting and vibrant, and that’s why many of us choose to study here. Fee levy groups help play a role in building and sustaining that culture.

Recently, significant policy changes have been proposed that directly affect fee levy groups on campus. These changes, if passed, will detrimentally affect the organizations and services that many students access, participate in, and learn from. The net effect of these changes will be devastating to fee levy groups on campus.

Unfortunately, fee levy groups were never consulted about these changes that, if passed, will have an adverse effect on our organizing and services, as well as divide the Concordia community unnecessarily. We urge members of the community to get informed about the issues at stake concerning fee levies because you will eventually decide what happens.

WHO ARE THE FEE LEVY GROUPS?

The following organizations are currently fee-levy groups at Concordia (in alphabetical order): Art Matters * Centre for Gender Advocacy * Cinema Politica * CJLO 1690AM  * Community University Television (CUTV) * Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore * Concordia Food Coalition (CFC) * Concordia Greenhouse * Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program (CVAP) * Concordian newspaper * Frigo Vert * The Link  * People’s Potato * Quebec Public Interest Research Group  (QPIRG) * Queer Concordia * the Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) * Sustainable Concordia.

WHAT ARE FEE LEVY GROUPS?

Fee levy groups are student organizations and initiatives at Concordia University that are student-elected through the referendum process. Fee levy groups are made up of Concordia undergraduate (and sometimes graduate students) as well as community members from wider Montreal communities. Fee levy groups receive all or part of their operating budgets from a per-credit Concordia student fee levy. Fee levy groups are autonomous from the administrations of Concordia University, the CSU, the GSA, and all academic bodies and associations.

Together, fee levy groups provide students and the community with diverse resources, services and campaigns, including:

•           ecological and sustainable development campaigns and projects;
•           an international development volunteer program;
•           a gender advocacy center;
•           a fine arts festival;
•           a political cinema series;
•           independent student media (television, radio and print);
•           a natural food co-op;
•           a vegan soup kitchen;
•           a social and environmental justice center;
•           a co-operative bookstore.

In practice, the work of fee levy groups takes many forms, such as:

  • fostering a safe environment for LGBTQ students;
  • promoting safer, healthier, and more affordable food options on campus;
  • providing access to affordable textbooks;
  • directly financing students working on projects to improve the environmental and social sustainability of Concordia;
  • writing and broadcasting stories concerning events, activities, and student government at our school;
  • and much more!

In addition to these core mandates, all fee levy groups provide many other tangible benefits to students, such as:

  • meaningful volunteer and internship opportunities;
  • meaningful job opportunities for undergraduate students;
  • mentorship from people with experience in diverse fields;
  • skills in running non-profit organizations by participation in assemblies or board of directors.

HOW ARE WE ACCOUNTABLE TO STUDENTS?

We’re comprised of students! Our membership base is students who decide the direction and core mandates of our organizations. If a group currently collects fee levies, it is because the undergraduate student body at large had previously decided to confer that status.

Importantly, all fee levy groups signing this statement are legally incorporated, have a constitution, hold Annual General Meetings, publish annual reports and have externally reviewed financial statements. Key documents and information are posted on the websites of the signing groups, for easy access by members and students.

With the above measures, along with an ongoing public presence on campus (through services, events, campaigns, projects and more), fee levy groups maintain transparency and accountability to their members. As fee levy groups, we may be comparatively bigger or smaller, but we each work hard to the best of our capacities to provide tangible benefits to the Concordia community. We are by and for Concordia students and community.

THE IDEA OF COMMUNITY

Concordia University, like any diverse, multifold community, is made up of many different parts, all of which are valuable. It’s unfortunate that sometimes the debate around fee levy groups creates false divisions between students and between faculties, instead of emphasizing how the entire Concordia community benefits from having vibrant, engaged, and accountable organizations on campus.

Not everyone will access every fee levy group during their time at Concordia; in the same way, not every student will go to a CSU meeting or a Stingers game. But these services and initiatives are made possible by all students, and they are therefore always available to all students. One of the strengths the Concordia community is that we support projects and initiatives because many students can benefit from them, not necessarily all of them. The principle of sustainable community is that even though I might not directly benefit from something, it’s still worthwhile to support because it strengthens my community, and by doing so makes all of us better.

We urge the Concordia community, which we are intimately part of, to consider the long-term consequences of the proposed changes and to consider options that support and sustain fee levy groups on campus.

Signed:
– Art Matters
– Centre for Gender Advocacy
– Cinema Politica
– Community University Television (CUTV)
– Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore
– Concordia Food Coalition (CFC)
– Concordia Greenhouse
– Concordia Volunteers Abroad Program (CVAP)
– Frigo Vert
– People’s Potato
– Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG)
– Queer Concordia
– Sustainability Action Fund (SAF)
– Sustainable Concordia

If you have any questions or comments, get in touch directly with fee levy groups on campus or contact info@supportfeelevygroups.org

We encourage other Concordia-based allied groups and organizations to endorse this declaration as well. You can send your endorsement to info@supportfeelevygroups.org

The following groups have endorsed this declaration as well:
– The Geography Undergraduate Student Society (GUSS)
– Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability (LCSA)
– Concordia Association of Students in Theatre
– Geography, Planning and Environment Graduate Students Association (GEOGRADS)

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