Campaign fee a ‘tuition hike’

On Sept. 26, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) will call upon Concordia students at their general assembly to contest the university’s collection of the capital campaign fee.
Roughly 60 per cent of students are eligible for a refund. According to CSU figures only 10 per cent of students have filled out the forms for a refund.
The CSU argued that these fees are illegal and unethical. “It was a backdoor tuition hike, these fees are just a way to put more money into the university’s coffer,” said Patrice Blais, the CSU’s vp finance.
Concordia administration said that the money collected from these fees are crucial. “Universities have been hard hit financially starting in the mid 90’s [and] we’ve lost 25 per cent of our operating budget,” said Chris Mota, a public relations officer for the university.
According to Mota, students benefit from the capital campaign fee, since the funding goes to athletics, student life, library collections, as well as
scholarships and bursaries.
The administration approached the Concordia Council on Students Life (CCSL) in March of 1997 with the idea of the capital campaign fee. “Nowhere did the administration make any decision. They just stressed the need,” explained Mota.
“All elected students were invited to attend. The students voted in favour of the campaign.”
Mota added that external donors, such as companies and graduates, are more willing to donate to a fund such as the capital campaign if they are reassured that students are involved.
At first the capital campaign fee was $1.50 per credit and it went up to $2.50 per credit. Mota said that the CCSL made the fee affordable.
Blais disagreed. “It’s an involuntary contribution from the students because it never went to referendum when the question was put to referendum by the CSU last March, the students voted 90 per cent against.” He added that the Concordia Foundation, which allots the collected money is not obliged to give any funds because they are a private foundation and they make the final decision of how
the money is spent.
He stated that university funding is an investment. Mota agreed. “The problem is finding investors. The CSU thinks that Concordia should lean in on the government and stop digging into the student’s pockets for the capital campaign fee.”
“We are pressuring the provincial government. The government relations office is very active. We’ve signed a performance contract and we’re constantly talking to the government,” said Mota. Blais said that the capital campaign fee should not exist at all.
Mota added that is not enough to cover the costs of instructional and
information technology around the university and that is why there is the need for the administration fee.
Andrea Paterson, an accounting student, had no qualms paying the disputed fees.
“We have the cheapest tuition in Canada. If we have to pay more to improve the school, I don’t mind.”
“It’s overkill,” said Colin Phelps, an electrical engineering student, “I am
taking 13.5 credits this semester, so that’s almost $1,200.”

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