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SUS retracts first referendum question due to lack of clarity

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The Student Union Society (SUS) announced Tuesday they will be retracting their first referendum question on fee changes due to the lack of clarity in the statement. The second referendum question on the annual indexing of the SUS fee and the SUB fee will remain, and will be voted on April 1 to 4.

The press release retracting the first question said that SUS would review the question and redistribute it March 15. Students will be able to vote on whether to accept the changes from April 15 to 24.

The reasons given for removing the question were lack of clarity with students, who, SUS claims, were unsure if the U-Pass and SUS fee changes would be yearly or semesterly, and the recent increase in revenue. The press release stated that SUS had reviewed their finances for the semester and found there was an increase in commercial revenue. In light of this, the new question will include a lower requested increase in the SUS fee.

The second question, which will remain for students to vote on, asked students if they support indexing the SUS and the SUB fees by the average Consumer Price Index (CPI). Fees students pay to SUS would increase each year by a small percentage. There was an increase of 2.3 per cent in 2018, according to Statistics Canada, which would have resulted in a total fee increase to the SUS and SUB fees of $1.50.

The original press release claimed the reason for changing to CPI increases was in part to ensure SUS revenues didn’t decline in value each year, and due to the 25 per cent increase in fees UFV has charged SUS for the SUB operation over the last three years.

“We are looking into why they charged us this amount but that is on UFV,” Gill said over email.

The first question, now retracted, asked for a change in fee structure, decreasing fees to the health and dental plan and U-Pass, and increasing fees to the general SUS fund. The promotional material claimed students would see a net savings of $16.37, but failed to mention this is only accounting for one semester’s worth of fees.  

The referendum proposed decreasing the U-Pass fee by $5.37 and increasing the SUS fee by $9. The press release retracting the question did not clarify if the original proposal was to change these fees per semester, but the fees are collected on a per semester basis for students. The question also asked to decrease the health and dental fee by $20, a fee which is collected once for the entire year.  

If the U-Pass and SUS fee changes were per semester, students taking more than one semester would have seen savings with the proposed changes, but only if they have not opted out of the health and dental plan offered by SUS. Students taking only two semesters at UFV would have seen savings of $12.74, and those taking three semesters a total savings of $9.11 over the entire year. Students who opt out of the student health and dental plan would have had to pay additional fees of $3.63 per semester towards the general SUS fee.

Image: The Cascade

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