Students to vote on fee levy increase, stance on austerity and more
by Nathalie Laflamme & Sara Baron-Goodman
Eight referendum questions were approved at the Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) Council meeting on Oct. 22.
Among them, the CSU is asking that their fee levy match the Canadian Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is about two per cent per year. The CSU had a deficit of about $135,000 as of Sept. 17, although, according to Benjamin Prunty, CSU president, the situation is currently changing and they now expect the deficit to be less than that.
“We think that indexing the CSU’s fee-levy to CPI is a good way to help curtail the yearly increase in costs that the CSU has,” Prunty said. “A large portion of these increases are the result of mandatory increases in pay for our staff.”
They also approved a question asking students to support the BDS movement, which calls to boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.
The question was originally brought forward in the form of a petition, but CSU councillor Rami Yahia chose to bring it to council instead for “democratic purposes”.
Yahia put emphasis on the fact that this is a human rights cause. “Students should support the BDS movement because it is an effective non-violent way of resisting the illegal occupation of Palestine as well as the blockade on Gaza,” Yahia said.
“It is an important topic for us to discuss, but it is also important that we do not let ourselves get swept away, and that as a student body we don’t forget about the work that extends beyond political discourse,” Prunty said.
Council also voted in favour of putting questions on the by-election ballot concerning taking a loan out from their Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency (SSAELC) fund account, as well as increasing the International & Ethnic Associations Council’s (IEAC) fee levy.
Council approved the question concerning the CSU taking out a loan from the SSAELC to cover the Hive’s startup costs.
“[These startup costs] that typically might be alleviated through taking out loans from a bank, but we have no need for that since we have accumulated large amounts of funds for improvements to student space,” Prunty said.
According to Prunty, the question at hand is not whether or not the Hive will receive funding—their fund allocation has already been approved. Rather, the referendum question poses whether students feel these funds should come from the CSU’s operating budget or from the SSAELC.
Council also voted in favour of putting CONMUN’s fee levy application for an increase of seven cents per credit on the by-election ballot.
The policy committee stated that they had worked with CONMUN concerning their fee levy application, and that they felt that the issues they had with CONMUN’s constitution were appropriately dealt with. Terry Wilkins, VP Academic and Advocacy, said that they now approved of the application.
“We worked really hard and collaborated with the CSU Policy Committee and they were very helpful to help us create a better document,” Nathanaël Dagane, CONMUN president, said.
IEAC’s fee levy increase was also approved to be put on the ballot. IEAC “seeks to solidify relationships among ethnic student associations by promoting multiculturalism” according to their Facebook page. Students will vote on whether or not the IEAC fee levy will be increased by six cents per credit at by-elections.
Another question will be included asking students to take an official stance against austerity measures.
The polling period for CSU by-elections will be taking place on Nov. 25 to 27.