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Editorial: Fall 2015 referendum endorsements

a/Editorial/Opinion by

CKUT Fee increase: Yes

CKUT provides invaluable services to students, as well as to the wider Montreal community. As the only radio show on campus, it is an invaluable space for training in all aspects of radio production, such as mixing and radio software, and is a source of quality journalism. The budget demonstrates that an increase in the fee will offset much of the deficit facing CKUT, but leaves the reason for this method to the imagination. It is apparent when looking at the budget that an increase in the fee will ameliorate CKUT’s financial position, but does not show whether alternative sources of revenue or cost-cutting measures have been explored. While students must do what they can to assist CKUT in reducing their budget—especially as it has been several years since a fee increase—CKUT itself must work to ensure that it considers ways to restructure to entrench its long-term viability as a news agency.

Safety Network Fee: Yes

The “Safety Network” is comprised of McGill Student Emergency Response Team (M-SERT), DriveSafe, Walksafe, and the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS). By creating a single non-opt-outable fee that includes a set amount for each group, all students will support the provision of these essential services. Regardless of whether a student uses the services, they will support their functioning for the entire McGill community. The new fee will also reduce the administrative strain on the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) by removing separate fees from the SSMU base fee.

Plebiscite- Yearbook Fee: Yes to both questions

There has been very limited interest in the Old McGill yearbook in recent years, perhaps owing to its high cost. Even with subsidies from SSMU, yearbooks cost $60.00 last year. The first plebiscite question asks students to consider whether the funding structure ought to be changed; if students vote “Yes,” the new funding structure will have to be approved in another referendum question in the future. Adjusting the funding structure will make the yearbook more accessible to those who want one while reducing the deficit incurred by SSMU each year, which last year was nearly $20,000. It is a physical archive for the university, as well as a memento for graduating students. A “Yes” vote for the second question, which would favour an opt-outable fee that will charge students $3.00 per semester, would lower the cost of the yearbook for all students who are interested in receiving one. This would ensure a sustainable fund to spend on the yearbook each year. The plebiscite will provide an indication of how many students are interested in the yearbook itself, and will be able to determine whether or not a new funding structure and introduction of an opt-outable Yearbook Fee would be worthwhile.

Plebiscite- SSMU support for student-run cooperative enterprises: Yes

While an effort by SSMU to develop projects to increase the financial accessibility of commodities for students is a commendable goal, the ambiguous wording of the plebiscite itself leaves many questions unanswered. In order to properly consult students, the details and plans of action for such projects must be delineated more clearly.SSMU should be able to discuss the issue and determine if such projects would be something that would fall within their capabilities. Student-run cooperative enterprises would fall within the mandate of supporting students facing financial difficulty. The implementation of such projects may needlessly add to the responsibilities of SSMU executives, who already face various challenges owing to a lack of staff; while the conversation should be opened, the McGill community must not be deluded in thinking that this will lead to any significant changes within the 2015-2016 year. Instead, it can be seen as an opportunity to begin a discussion that can crystallize in several years. The vague presentation of the issue, particularly how it is related to mobilization against austerity, must be corrected in the future in order to inspire greater confidence in SSMU’s ability to go beyond this very preliminary conception of the issue itself.

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