SBESS levy fee raise voted down by students

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SBE - ONLINE Jess File fotoBusiness students voted “no” to the School of Business and Economics Students’ Association’s referendum question, despite a campaign called “Vote Yes.” The question proposed a raise of the compulsory non-tuition fee, which funds the extra-curricular activities in the school of business and economics.

The fee was to be raised from $21.25 per student to $57.25.

“I was disappointed,” said SBESS president Evan Little. “I thought it would pass.”

The question failed with 57 per cent against the fee raise with a difference of 179 votes.

“I don’t really understand why it was voted down because it was a very incremental increase,” said Julia Schafrick, a fourth-year business student. “What’s an extra couple bucks in the grand scheme of your tuition?”

Samantha Sousa, a fourth-year business student, said she believes students just weren’t informed on what the levy fee goes towards.

“They didn’t think about what actually was involved,” Sousa said, noting that people likely saw that it would be more money and shot it down.

1,397 Waterloo SBE students voted in the election, which is a 34 per cent turnout.

Little agreed that in general it’s difficult to convince students to support a fee raise. Proof of this, he explained, is that the referendum question about the undergraduate faculty association fee increase was also voted down. The Brantford faculty association fee increase for criminology, leadership and journalism was the only fee raise to pass.

He said he can understand that students whom they didn’t reach through the campaign may have automatically voted “no” as soon as they saw the question on their ballot.

“This was always the fear. The students we didn’t reach were going in blind and so when they go in blind to this question, they’re like do you want this increased by this amount — I mean the natural reaction is to be like no,” Little said.

According to Little, students don’t even know they are being charged a compulsory non-tuition fee in the first place.

“I think the big push of this campaign, or what came out of it is that it was education,” he said. “I think students now know there is a fee and that’s how this stuff gets funded, which I think is a good first step.”

He said he felt the campaigning for the fee raise went well. Their team had many positive interactions with students who approached their booth.

“There weren’t many vocal students who were against us. There were a few that questioned it, but I think through conversation it was resolved.”

Despite the question being voted down, Little said they will still try to actualize plans they said they would do with the increase.

“All that means is it’s a reallocation of dollars because it’s a fixed pie, so now we’re going to move some resources from certain things and put them into new events and take back from past events that we’ve run.”

Little continued that at the end of the day it was up to students to decide whether they wanted the fee increase.

“We said right from the beginning, if this wasn’t something students wanted then the votes will reflect that.”

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