Proposed controversial programming fee goes to referendum

On Jan. 27, the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council (BUSAC) voted to send a new proposed fee to referendum. This fee, called the ‘Programming Levy’, will charge incoming first-year students $100 and will be used to pay for O-Week and other events throughout the year. The fee will replace the current VIB cards which were formerly called Access Gold.

Brian Horvath, BUSU’s Vice President of Student Services, is leading the yes-side campaign of the referendum. He claims that the Programming Levy would provide a more inclusive O-Week for everyone as events will be free for all first years and heavily subsidized for everyone else. It would also create a more diverse range of events during O-Week and also throughout the entire week.

“The impact on the student experience oustide of the classroom will be tremendous,” said Horvath. “It will bring up the school spirit.”

A small percentage of the Programming Levy would also be used to train BUSU volunteers and reward them for their time and commitment. As well, the levy would be used to buy capital infrastructure for events, such as tables and speakers, instead of renting them every single time.

Another benefit of the programming levy would be the fact that BUSU could plan for events with a budget. With the current VIB system, which largely pays for O-Week, it is difficult to know how much money will actually be available since VIB cards are sold right up to and during O-Week.
On the no-side campaign of the referendum, led by Calvin Eady, the arguments are that the proposed fee is unfair to students.

Eady claims that having current students vote for a fee that they won’t be paying for, is not fair to the incoming first-years. He also thinks it’s unfair that only first-years will be paying for the programming of events that are for all students.

“This is one of the most unfair fees that’s ever been proposed,” said Eady. “It’s really unfair that it’s only charged to first years, that it’s mandatory and that there’s no sunset clause.”

Unlike the VIB card, which students may or may not choose to buy, the Programming Levy would be automatically charged to all first-years with no option of opting out. Eady claims that even if more diverse programming were provided, there would still be students who would not come out to events, despite being forced to pay for it.

As for the sunset clause, Eady thinks that there should be an amendment to the Programming Levy that would make it go back under review in four or five years, should it pass. That way, the students who are actually paying for it, will have the chance to vote on whether or not they would like to continue the fee.

“There are definitely some positive aspects to the fee, but it’s about weighing the pros and cons and I think there are more cons to this levy,” said Eady.

BrockTV Referendum up for renewal

The second referendum that students will be voting on is the Brock TV fee. Students are currently paying $3.01 per credit, which helps keep Brock TV operational. The referendum is not a change in the fee amount, but simply a renewal. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the fee, it has to go under review every five years and be voted on again by the students.

Katherine Madden, the Campaign Team Manager of the yes-side and Marketing Coordinator of Brock TV hopes that students will understand the benefits and opportunities that Brock TV provides for students.

“Our overall goal [in the campaign] is to make students aware of what Brock TV does on campus,” said Madden. “We’d like to make them aware of the importance of having a media outlet.”

Brock TV has been on campus for the past ten years and is currently the largest television media outlet of all Canadian universities. It provides both work and volunteer opportunities for students interested in broadcasting and provides the Brock community with weekly programs of news segments, sports, entertainment, politics and original content.

“I’ve had so many great experiences working for Brock TV and I really want students to continue to have that chance,” said Madden.

Students will be able to vote on the referendums as well as the BUSAC and Senate candidates through their brocku.ca emails on Mar. 29 to 31.

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