ASFA is asking to increase fee-levy to $1.40 per credit in referendum
In the upcoming by-elections, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) will be posing a referendum question asking students if they agree to increase their fee-levy to $1.40 per credit.
ASFA’s fee-levy has been at $1.22 per credit since 2009. The federation is asking to hike it up by 18 cents.
If the increase is approved, ASFA’s main objective is to cover rising expenses and to provide enough money to its member associations to pay for their expanding activities, which mainly include events. “As member associations grow and become more popular, they’re having larger events and more participation,” said Marguerite Rolland, advocacy and executive coordinator of ASFA. Rolland said ASFA is not able to provide member associations the funds they are asking for with the federation’s current budget.
The funding of each of the member associations would rise in proportion to the fee-levy’s increase, according to Rolland. “Right now, we want to make sure that we give out [money] to every member association in a fair and equitable way,” she said. “So every member association can really benefit from just getting a boost in funding.”
Moreover, Caleb Owusu-Acheaw, ASFA’s finance coordinator, noted that the failure to increase the fee-levy does not reflect the changing prices of the last years. “Ten years is a long time, you have to account for inflation, you have to account for rising costs,” said Owusu-Acheaw.
With expanding associations, ASFA plans on reforming many of its policies, which include paying lawyers to check these changes. “We need to utilize our lawyers a little bit more because when we update policy and when we create policy that reigns over associations and over its members, we need to make sure that it’s legal, that it’s enforceable,” said Rolland.
ASFA plans to modify other policies, as it did with its new anti-harassment and sexual violence policy which was reviewed twice by lawyers. “That’s been our first policy that we’ve had to have the lawyers verify and we plan to revamp a lot of other ones and to look at other issues,” Rolland said.
Aside from the expenses related to legal issues and member associations, ASFA also wishes to use the money from the potential fee-levy increase to create the council discretionary fund. ASFA would allocate $2,000 per year to council, who would then decide to whom it would be given. It could be given “to campaigns, to charities, to non-profit organizations […] to some sort of Montreal initiative,” said Rolland.
The fund would be created next spring if it is approved during the March elections.
The fee-levy is one of the many financial measures ASFA has implemented in an attempt to maximize the member associations’s budget. “What we did to try to boost more funding for MA’s [member associations], is we cut our office budget,” said Owusu-Acheaw. “We cut our frosh expenses, we cut our committee budget, our idea was to make them more efficient.”
According to Owusu-Acheaw, the potential fee-levy increase would not be used to cover a possible deficit because the expenses in the last couple years, which resulted in a surplus between 10 and 20 thousand dollars, would serve that purpose. “Our intention is, if we were to be in a deficit, we would use that surplus from last year and previous years to absorb the deficit this year,” said Owusu-Acheaw. Although he had projected a deficit in July, Owusu-Acheaw said the finances are doing better than he expected. “We made more money than we thought, in terms of frosh revenue as an example. Our member associations are doing a really good job in reducing costs in terms of the budgets they were given while growing the number of events they have.”
In the last general elections, the proposal to increase the fee-levy failed by three votes. Rolland believes it is more likely to pass in the upcoming by-elections. “I think there are more chances, because we made sure that our member associations, so the people who hold events, the people who could potentially benefit from this, know about it,” said Rolland. “This year we made a presentation at council […] to show what we are acting for, what we intend to do with the money and why we need it.”
The by-elections begin Nov. 27 and end Nov. 29
Graphic by Ana Bilokin.