Brock University Students’ Union referendums are approaching. The online voting process will occur next week through BrockU email accounts, and in the interim, students have the opportunity to research the referendums on which they can vote. The two referendums students will be presented with are the creation of a per-credit fee to fund the radio station known as Brock Radio, and the creation of an annual student engagement levy charged to first-year students.
The Brock University Student Radio Levy will ask students if they support a $1.75 per credit fee for all full and part-time undergraduate students in all academic sessions. If passed, students would not be able to opt out of the fee.
Additionally, the memorandum of understanding includes a July 31 annual deadline for Brock Radio to provide the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) Board of Directors with a copy of their budget. Furthermore, one student union executive appointed by the student union will become a non-voting member of the Brock Radio board of directors, with the members of Brock Radio voting to ratify the candidate. Brock Radio must hire an external auditor for an annual financial audit, as well.
In October 2013, students voted on a referendum that removed the $1.50 per credit fee for Brock Radio. Of the 3,175 students who voted in the election, 53.8 per cent voted ‘yes’ to remove the fee. Brock Radio was sent back to referendum this past March, in which students were asked if they supported the creation of a $1.75 per credit fee, however 54.4 per cent said they did not – a total of 4,077 students voted in the March 2018 elections.
CFBU 103.7 FM is based off-campus, but commits itself to be a community-based campus radio station, and to be an autonomous media source for news and information. Brock Radio is a student-volunteer organization, which allows students to host a variety of shows, while the station also aims to broadcast intellectual, articulate and entertaining spoken word and music programming.
The other levy in question is the Student Engagement levy. This proposed levy would be a $100 annual fee charged to all incoming first-year students. If passed, students would first be charged starting in Fall of 2019. The levy would be mandatory, with the potential to increase annually up to five per cent should the BUSU Board of Directors approve an increase.
According to its memorandum of understanding, the monies collected through the levy would be used for Orientation Week and Frost Week programming, wellness initiatives, small-scale programming, equipment purchase and repair, ‘SWAG’ items to give away, accessible transportation to off-campus events, human resource costs, volunteer appreciation and professional programming. The uses of the levy would not be limited to the items listed but would have to fulfill the memorandum of understanding.
This referendum is not the first time students have voted on the creation of a programming levy. In March of 2016, the proposed levy was a $100 one-time fee to be charged to all incoming first -year students: this referendum failed with 53 per cent of students who voted saying ‘no’. A total of 2,989 students voted, with 351 choosing to abstain.
Back in February 2014, the proposed levy was a $32 fee charged to all undergraduate students taking one and a half credits or more during the Fall/Winter session. With 4,199 total voters, 2,540 turned down the referendum – 60.49 per cent.
According to the memorandum of understanding for this levy, it “will be primarily focused on providing programming and services for first year students. Its purpose is to enhance the student experience for those coming to Brock for the first time.”
Aidan Hibma, the student union president, prepared a presentation on this levy that can be found on BUSU’s website, explaining the concept and providing support for the proposition side of the referendum.
“Currently, our total programming budget for the year is $317,000 and we spend about $269,000 on O-Week alone. That’s approximately 85 per cent of our total budget for one week,” said Hibma. “We see a lot of value in O-Week and getting our students accustomed to campus life and that’s why we make such an investment into it. However, we have realized that this isn’t fair for our upper year students who generally don’t participate in O-Week as much.”
Students will be able to vote on these referendums from Oct. 23 until Oct. 25 through their Brock email accounts. Further information and memorandums of understanding can be found on the BUSU website.