The Aquinian

Next year’s STUSU fees still a mystery

STUSU president Mark Livingstone focuses on the debate at last Thursday’s regular STUSU meeting. (Shane Magee/AQ)

The vote to increase fees St. Thomas University students pay for STUSU membership has been delayed – again.

STU students’ union vice-president administration Mary-Dan Johnston introduced the idea of raising the full- and part-time students’ union fee by three per cent two weeks ago.

It would, if approved, increase the full-time student STUSU fee to $111.24 from $108 per year.

The part-time student fee would increase to $43.26 from $42.

“With costs going up, the only responsible thing to do is to increase fees – just a little bit,” Johnston said in a previous interview with The Aquinian.

It was brought up again last week when she presented the proposed 2012-2013 STUSU budget.

The meeting lasted two hours – normally meetings run about 30 minutes – and the fee increase was one of the last items up for discussion.

Council voted to push back the vote another week because some voting members had already left the meeting by the time it came up.

The proposed budget projects a $755.50 surplus with the fee increase and a $7,403 deficit without it.

Just under half of the unions’ expenses are for staff.

Johnston said two weeks ago the fee hike was required to cover increases in membership in Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and New Brunswick Student Alliance.

The increases in the lobby organization fees will not be as high as Johnston first said.

At the time, she said there would be an $8,000 increase in CASA fees over the next few years.

Last week in an email, CASA national director Zachary Dayler explained STUSU will pay about $8,000 in total once the new fee structure is in place.

According to the proposed budget, next year’s council will pay $6,500, up by $1,500 from this year.

The increase in NBSA fees Johnston predicted also didn’t appear in the proposed budget.

“Although there was some noise about NBSA fees going up to $12,500, apparently that isn’t happening,” Johnston said as she presented the new budget.

STUSU president Mark Livingstone said the only reason the fee increase was introduced was because of the unionization of the STUSU employees last spring.

Under the proposed budget, 44 per cent of allocated money will be used to pay 10 staff.

“The fee increase is a direct result of a process that occurred in the early weeks and hours before I started my term for president,” said Livingstone.

Johnston said the increase is because of provisions in the STUSU employee union collective agreement. Under the agreement, senior employees earn more than new employees.

Add in the 20 elected representatives and that figure jumps to just over 55 per cent.

According to old budgets, the 13 employees in 2010-2011 cost STUSU $108,604.

That increased to $119,545.60 this year and will jump to $124,153 under the proposed budget.

In comparison, STUSU is budgeting $6,000 for clubs and societies funding requests and $68,000 for student services which includes emergency bursaries, SafeRide, the Help Desk, and events such as winter formal.

The budget does not factor in president-elect John Hoben’s election promise to create a new position to build an electronic bookstore or a renegotiated contract for the STUSU general manager. No funding has been allocated for the bookstore as of yet.

The general manager, Tina Reissner, has worked for STUSU since at least 2003 and manages the union’s books.

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