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Letter to the editor – Re: Raphael Stein

by The Concordian September 29, 2015

Letter to the Editor,

Concordia students have the right to opt-out of Fee-Levy Group fees, but very few do. There are three reasons why: first, many students are simply not aware of this option; second, even if they are aware, the procedure is just too darn complicated and time consuming to even bother with; and third, they think the Fee-Levy Groups (henceforth referred to as FLGs) are all doing a fantastic job.

The third reason is actually the least common, simply because the vast majority of students know very little—if anything—about what FLGs are and what they do. Please allow me to provide some background.

There are 13 Fee-Levy Groups scattered around the SGW campus (with only one at Loyola). Each group is different and is involved in different activities on and off campus. Some are involved in grassroots social issues, some create media content related to Concordia, some distribute food, and so on. The university collects money on behalf of the Fee-Levy Groups via our tuition. Together, they receive $3.35 per credit from every undergraduate student (about $50.25 for a full time undergrad) and $7.75 per semester from graduate students.  It turns out, the only way the university agreed to this arrangement in the first place was because the FLGs promised to allow any student to opt out if they so desired.

However the FLGs found a loophole: the university never said how simple the opt-out process had to be. And thus we have a system today where to opt-out of Cinema Politica (a group that screens independent political films) for example, you have within five school days to call, schedule an appointment, and travel to their office to collect your 70 cents per undergraduate credit. I’m only using Cinema Politica as an example and have no public opinion on their activities to offer. I encourage all students to examine each of the FLGs’ activities and determine which—if any—you would like to support.

Ironically, several of the Fee Levy Groups claim to fight for social justice, which among other things, opposes oppressive  government bureaucracy (i.e. vis-a-vis immigration) and fights tactics that prevent citizens from exercising their rights. Yet, they have no issue enforcing impossible conditions on students wishing to exercise their right to opt out of theses fees and effectively barring disabled students, students based in Loyola, and others from opting out at all.

I have proposed a reasonable solution to the insanity: Opt-Out Day. Opt-Out Day will be one or more designated days at each campus, where each FLG will be required to staff a table at a central location and provide fee-refunds on the spot to any student with proper documentation who requests it. Opt-Out Day is not a perfect solution (it is also time constrained, for example), yet it is the most reasonable, cheap and simplest to implement.

Raphael Stein, ENCS undergrad

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