Sustainability fee not charged at Brantford

Unlike their Waterloo counterparts, students at the Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford campus, since 2009, inadvertently did not have to pay an annual five-dollar sustainability fee that was agreed upon by both campuses through referendum.

Considered to be a communication error between the two campuses and the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU), Brantford students were essentially receiving equitable treatment in terms of sustainable initiatives, but didn’t have to contribute to its funding.

The fees, however, will be applied in the 2012-13 academic year, paying the same rate that Waterloo students will pay.

“The sustainability fee was originally designed to replace the green fee and the green fee was only applied in Waterloo, up until that point [2009],”explained Chris Walker, the chair of the board at WLUSU, adding the fees from student would fund the Sustainability office.

“It was asked on both campuses [through referendum] and it was subsequently passed on both campuses, so it should be applied to both campuses and we’re just trying to fix that error right now,” Walker added.

The error was brought to the attention of the board from Reuben DeBoer, the associate vice president: services at the Brantford campus WLUSU.
While he stated in an e-mail that he is glad this error was being corrected, he declined to make a comment.

“He just shot me an e-mail, he was kind of curious to why it wasn’t being applied in Brantford, and I wasn’t aware of this before,” continued Walker. “Upon researching into it we kind of found it was an error and there isn’t really any reason why it shouldn’t be applied.”

With these funds —which have only been paid by Waterloo students since 2009—the Sustainability office at WLU can create initiatives to promote environmental awareness at both campuses. To ensure another error such as this hasn’t happened before, Walker was tasked by the board to look back at all the referendum questions of the last six years to confirm that they have been correctly applied.

According to Walker, issues such as this haven’t occurred in the past, but he cites the growing Brantford campus and larger multi-campus governance as reasons for why a fee could go under the radar.

“That’s the case where we’re trying to make all our operations, all our referendum questions, our constitution and our policies and everything, more multi-campus, as opposed to Brantford or Waterloo,” said Walker.

He also stated that the multi-campus governance will go under review in the next couple of board meetings.

Since the Sustainability office runs on a zero-based budget, no money was lost because of this confusion. However, in terms of compensation for Waterloo students who have been paying more, Walker stated the Brantford students won’t pay more than the Waterloo students once the fee gets introduced on that campus.

“We don’t feel that’s really appropriate to retroactively charge Brantford students especially considering if it was an error on our part,” concluded Walker.

“And it’s not a really a significant amount of money anyway that we’re really missing out on in Brantford, but as Brantford continues to grow funding will become more valuable to the Sustainability office.”

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