This week, the St. Thomas University students’ union will vote on whether to increase the STUSU fees by three per cent.
Last week, vice-president administration Mary-Dan Johnston proposed the idea at council but the vote was delayed until this week.
If approved, the full-time student STUSU fee would go from $108 per year to $111.24.
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 on Friday.
She wants to increase the fee because of higher costs of membership in New Brunswick Student Alliance and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
NBSA is a provincial post-secondary education lobbying organization. CASA lobbies at the federal level.
NBSA membership could cost $12,500 next year, up from $3,000 this year.
The increase is a result of NBSA looking to hire an executive director, a position that was cut last year.
“That’s a pretty significant increase, not one that can simply be solved by cutting services.”
If council remains a full member in CASA, Johnston said membership fees for that organization are expected to jump by $8,000 over the next couple years.
Clarification: The CASA National Director said CASA fees will actually only rise $3,500 over the next three years.
This year, STUSU only budgeted to spend $5,000 for CASA membership.
Johnston said while STUSU has lobbied both levels of government and the university to keep costs low for students, it isn’t contradictory to ask for more money from students.
“I think its a different ball game. Yes, obviously every penny counts and that means a meal to someone. I recognize that.”
She said the since the costs that are going up, the extra money will help STUSU lobby to keep university costs lower for students.
Since union fees have not increased since 2004, revenue has not kept up with inflation, Johnston said.
The three per cent increase will “mean the end of all the talk about budgetary deficits and we could focus on issues that actually matter.
“Not that it doesn’t matter that there is a deficit, but as I’ve been saying for three years, it is a budgeted deficit,” said Johnston.
Incoming vice-president administration Findlay Mackay-Boyce said he supports the move.
“It is a smart, practical decision,” he said.
“No one wants to be the executive that has to raise fees.”
He said if the increase doesn’t happen now, it would have to be done later and student services and lobbying would suffer in the meantime.
Documents provided by Johnston and prepared in 2009 indicate the STUSU’s fees are lower than the $121.60 average in Atlantic Canada.
But Johnston said other students’ unions run businesses that generate money that allows them to keep fees low.
In 2001, STUSU opened a bar in Rigby Hall.
The bar, named Class, became the subject of a police investigation into accounting practices and was eventually closed in early 2003 as the university expanded the Rigby cafeteria.
Bylaws allow STUSU to increase student fees up to five per cent before triggering a mandatory referendum.
Johnston said students can attend the Thursday meeting to voice any concerns they have with the proposal to increase fees.
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