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CKUT fee increase fails in SSMU referendum

The results of the 2015 Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) referendum were announced on Nov. 15. All referendum questions passed, with the exception of the CKUT fee increase.


The Safety Network fee


The first referendum question, which proposed the creation of a SSMU Safety Network Fee passed by 75.3 per cent. The non-opt-outable fee, which will charge students $3.97 per semester, will be used to collectively fund the services of the SSMU Safety Network: The McGill Students’ Emergency Response Team (M-SERT), DriveSafe, WalkSafe, and the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS).

The Safety Network fee will replace the old fee structure, where M-SERT was funded by a non-opt-outable student fee of $0.50 per semester, and SACOMSS was funded by a non-opt-outable student fee of  $0.75 per undergraduate per semester. WalkSafe and DriveSafe were funded by a $0.05 and $0.25 per student per semester fee respectively, allocated to them by SSMU from the SSMU base membership fee. SSMU Vice-President (VP) Finance Zacheriah Houston spoke to the success of the referendum question.

“We’re thrilled that the safety network fee passed,” Houston said. “The passing of this fee means that [MSERT] will have guaranteed funding for the next five years, and is also more transparent to students because they know what they’re paying directly into. SACOMSS getting a fee increase is incredible because they’ll be able to pay their staff, which is something that they need to do.”

The Safety Network fee will be charged to students from Winter 2016 to Winter 2021, inclusively.


CKUT fee


In the referendum question regarding the CKUT Radio student fee, 54.7 per cent of students voted “No” to the referendum question that proposed increasing the CKUT fee for all undergraduate students regardless of faculty by $1.50.

According to the CKUT’s annual budget for 2015-2016, the radio station is currently running a deficit of $40,251. Chair of the CKUT Board of Directors Cecilia MacArthur spoke to the ramifications of the results.

“The loss has dire effects on our ability to function as a radio station,” MacArthur said. “Still, we will not be closing. As a station, we will continue discussions about new sources of fundings, including restructuring how we sell ads and fundraising in other ways.”


Plebiscite questions


The vote on the first plebiscite question, proposing that SSMU increase its focus on developing projects that alleviate the cost of commodities, like housing and food, for students, saw 79.0 per cent of students in support.

“Do you support the SSMU focusing more of its energy on developing projects to increase the financial accessibility of commodities, such as student housing and food cooperatives, for students?” the plebiscite question read.

SSMU President Kareem Ibrahim expressed his excitement about the opportunities that the results of  this plebiscite has presented.

“I’m definitely excited to see that students would want to see SSMU having a more active role in not only student-run co-ops but also in just making things more accessible to them financially,” Ibrahim said. “There is this student housing that we’re interested in exploring, also making the Nest and the [Student Run Cafe] a bit more student-run, it’s something I think would be of interest to students, and something we could invest more time in.”

In regards to the second plebiscite question, 56.9 per cent of students voted “Yes” to part one, which proposed the creation of a new yearbook fee to fund Old McGill, McGill’s yearbook. For part two of the plebiscite question, 76.6 per cent of students voted “Yes” for which stated that this fee would be non-opt-outable.

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