CSU referendum on online voting and fee levies
After a cancelled by-election last fall due to a combination of reasons, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) is having by-elections from Jan. 15 to 17. Students will be able to vote for nine new council members, and vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on two referendums.
Twenty students are hoping to get a seat on council for each faculty.
Although students will be able to vote online exceptionally for this by-election, the CSU is still asking the student body if they “support the use of electronic voting in the elections of the Concordia Student Union,” as their first referendum.
The second referendum is about changing fee levies that the CSU receives every year, to move funds around to restructure the union’s finances, according to John Hutton, chair of the referendum committee.
The CSU is asking to decrease the fee levy of the Student Space, Accessible Education, and Legal Contingency (SSAELC) fund from $0.75 to $0.39 per credit.
“The total change for students is zero cents, moving funds around within the CSU and not creating new fees,” said Hutton. The SSAELC fund can only be used for specific purposes, which include renovating student spaces and the daycare. “It’s a very large fund and it pulls [in] a lot of money,” according to Hutton. “This fund has about $10 million in it. There’s money that’s been invested in a lot of stock options that produces dividend every year.”
The difference in funding that results from the decrease would be redistributed into other funds including the operating fee levy, the Advocacy Centre fee levy, and the clubs fee levy. “We’re able to comfortably reduce the SSAELC fund levy in order to meet the budgetary needs of the other departments,” said Hutton.
The operating fund covers everything from orientation week to bursaries, campaigns, sustainability initiatives and student life events. “There’s been some increasing costs on some fronts, and each year we’ve been just cutting [it] close,” said Hutton. “With a small increase in the Operations fund, we can make it a little more stable.”
The Advocacy Centre’s fee levy was reduced by $0.09 during the 2014-15 year. The Advocacy Centre’s purpose is to offer students advocates for issues involving the university, such as charges of plagiarism. Additionally, the clubs’s fee levy was decreased by $0.05 during the 2017-18 year, from $0.25 to $0.20.
“Clubs are more active and the fee levy was reduced so expenses rose,” said Hutton, which resulted in a deficit. So, its fee levy accommodates the many current clubs’s needs.
The online polling period will close at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. Physical polling stations will also be available between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. around both campuses on Jan. 15, 16, and 17.
Hutton spoke to The Concordian in his position as chair of the referendum committee, not as finance coordinator of the CSU.
Graphic by Ana Bilokin.