Editorial: Students need to use their voice and vote on upcoming referendums

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It’s easy to complain about tuition costs being high, but it’s also easy to shrug off knowing you have some say in where that money goes. Sure, a dollar per credit, or in most cases $3 to $5 per credit doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up and it comes from referendums run by Brock University Students’ Union and the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council.

For those who don’t know but there are three elections held within the Brock student body over the course of an academic year: October, February and March. October holds the BUSAC By-Elections (BUSAC and Senate seats), February is the BUSU Executive Elections (voting for next years President and Vice-Presidents) and March elections range from Board of Director position, Faculty positions and potential referendums.

During these elections there can be referendums being run, which are used to see if students want to fund a club/organization and/or a levy impacting student events and facilities — this can include increasing the funding for a certain club or levy (example: U Pass).

Over recent years we’ve seen students take issue with some referendums — either because they simply didn’t agree with the fee, didn’t understand the referendum question or the referendum result didn’t fall in the favour of student majority (because students didn’t vote or were uneducated). The one I always highlight is the U Pass referendum, which failed and went back to referendum over the course of the last two years because students just weren’t aware what they were being asked. (No, I won’t point fingers this time on who’s to blame). Others have included funding to construct Alumni Field and the expansion of The Zone fitness centre.

This week’s publication of The Brock Press has two pages (see pages 10 and 11) covering the elections and bringing forth some light on the two referendums being run:

  1. Do you support the creation of a $1.75 per credit fee to fund Brock University Student Radio (CFBU) starting Spring 2019, as per the Memorandum of Understanding?
  2. Do you support the creation of $100 annual Student Engagement levy, to be charged to all incoming first year undergraduate students starting Fall 2019, as per the Memorandum of Understanding?

This isn’t the first time both referendums are up to a student vote. Brock Radio was up for referendum last year, in which the organization was asking for $1.75 per credit fee from students to allow for them to operate. It did fail, and Brock Radio is given a second chance and students will have a say. CFBU lost its funding during the October 2013 elections.

In 2014, BUSU put forth a program levy referendum to see if students supported an annual $32 flat fee for all undergraduate students. 2016’s engagement levy referendum is like this years – asking students to make the decision if all first-year students (of the future) should have to pay $100 in their incoming year to support all events put forth by BUSU (O-Week, Homecoming, etc).

The student engagement levy won’t cost any of the current voters any money, but it still impacts future tuition for future students. It’s your call if you think the programming levy fee will be a benefit for future students – think back to your first-year, would it have benefited you? This, among other questions, are what you should ask yourself ahead of the voting period of October 23-25.

Voter turnout over the last few elections has hovered around 25 to 35 per cent of eligible students. This goes back to anyone who complains about tuition, this is your time to decide if more cost will benefit future students. There’s 19,000 students at Brock and its time the voter turnout reflected a majority of the student body instead of one-quarter or one-third.

I should say, these referendums reflect more than student fees, but a way for you to determine a better student experience. It costs money for a good student experience, but it’s your job to determine if these two referendums (and future referendums) will help enhance that student experience.

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