Reviewing student life levy

With the approval of the referendum that accompanied the election ballots in February, Wilfrid Laurier University students and the students’ union have agreed to donate, through the student life levy (SLL) fund, approximately $12.7 million for various projects over the next decade.

According to the SLL committee, these funds are intended to directly contribute to the enhancement of student life.

Other than the $5 million designated to the structural improvements of the Athletic Complex, many projects will be determined on an annual basis through proposals and decisions made by the committee.

Robert Donelson, a member of the committee and the vice president of development and alumni relations, was extremely appreciative of this contribution from students.

“It really just stands out as an example of extraordinary leadership on the part of our students,” Donelson told The Cord. “I think it’s great and quite remarkable.”

To contribute the students must pay eight dollars per half-credit course in to the student levy. This figure will grow 2.25 per cent annually until April 2021.

Donelson added that the money, over the next ten years, will be divided into three different categories that will be beneficial to the needs on campus. This includes the improvement of health and physical activity, programs that foster the learning experience outside of the classroom and any other project deemed worthy by the committee.

“Students have the opportunity, as part of the committee, to determine what projects will be funded,” Donelson continued.

David McMurray, VP of student affairs, said that the committee is “a lot more collaborative and streamlined now; everyone one is sitting there with the best interests of the students in mind.”

In the past the student life levy was used for technological improvements, the school’s mortgage, student awards and library acquisitions. Currently, one of the proposals for next year’s fund is a renovation of the Concourse.
The proposals, outlined in a letter from university president Max Blouw, will be presented at the Apr. 1 WLUSU board meeting.
Kyle Walker, the president and CEO of WLUSU, commented on the role of the union moving forward, stating that, “The students’ union is taking their hand out of that pot of money; we have our own other fees.” In years past, WLUSU reserved a portion of the funds, a practice that will not be continued.
Compared to other universities, Donelson believes that Laurier students contribute more, “a lot of them do [similar funding], but not to this extent, to be honest.”
According to Gareth Cunningham, the campus recreation manager at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and Laurier alumnus, Western passed a referendum in 2006 where students — for the next 30 years — will contribute to the capital funding of the new athletic complex. Of the $36 million used for the construction of the facility, $23.8 million will come from students’ pockets.
Full-time Laurier students pay on average around $40 each semester to the student life levy, whereas full-time UWO students only pay a $60 dollar fee for the whole school year.
With Laurier students’ contribution to the university, Donelson hopes that more donations will come forward. “It’s also a gesture and a demonstration to everyone else that we approach, that the people who are closest to the heart and life of the university are really supporting it full-scale,” he added.
“This is something that we can leverage support from other donors, so I think in that sense it’s also significant.”