CSU prepares for referendum seeking fee increases

A new electronics repair service is being proposed along with increases to the health and dental plan

Christine Beyleveldt // News Editor

The Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) is preparing for a referendum concerning student fees paid towards the organization with voting open from Mar. 20 to 22 during the same period as their annual elections. Last year, the student body voted in favour of allowing the CSU to raise fees to cover the costs of external advocacy, recreation and intramurals, funding clubs and events and a Student Union Building, which is currently being incorporated into Capilano University’s Campus Master Plan for 2030.

“When I first came here I didn’t know too much about the CSU and what the CSU can offer students, and now that I’m more aware of it I really wish that more students could be more aware of it too,” said President and Vice President Finance and Services, Perry Safari. “It’s a matter of awareness and transparency.” Currently, the CSU is in a position where they are forced to go to referendum seeking to increase the price of the Health and Dental Plan to continue to be financially sustainable, and while the plan is on the table, so are two new items.

Health and Dental Plan

The CSU is currently running at a deficit where the Health and Dental Plan they provide to students is concerned. The provider, Pacific Blue Cross, raised premiums, meaning that the plan costs the CSU $259 per student per year and the CSU only charges students $234 for the plan. “We’ve been put in a position where we have to go to referendum,” said Safari. The CSU is asking for a 16 per cent raise starting September 2018 along with a five per cent raise each following academic year to be determined by the board.

However, Safari added, providers typically raise premiums when plans are used so he considers this a good sign that students are making use of the plan provided. He also wishes to encourage use of provider networks, which he believes many students aren’t familiar with. Provider networks can enhance the benefits of the Health and Dental Plan if students by making appointments with health care providers who already have agreements with the insurance provider. If the fee increase isn’t approved, the CSU will be forced to consider reductions to the coverage provided by the Health and Dental Plan in order to continue offering it at its current price to students.

Personal Electronics Repair Service

Also up for referendum is the proposition of a Personal Electronics Repair Service, which the board began discussing immediately following last year’s referendum. “Right now, with this electronic repair service, what this is looking at is a crucial situation in which students at Capilano University are expected to have access to technology and they are dependant on technology in order to be successful here at Cap,” said Safari.

The CSU will be asking for $0.57 per credit to be capped at 15 credits to cover the cost of providing students with the service, which will cover software and hardware repair services at no extra cost to students, with the exception of purchasing hardware that the CSU doesn’t have in inventory. If a student will require hardware that the CSU doesn’t have readily available they will only be charged for the cost of the equipment with no markup. “Some companies mark up the price of their hardware so much and they charge it all onto the customer to pay off their salaries and overhead expenses essentially, but we’re not trying to profit here,” explained Safari.

Social Justice Support Fee

Queer Students Liaison Kaschelle Thiessen, introduced a final referendum question directly to the board instead of the social justice committee, which ordinarily reviews these propositions. Owen Sigurdsson, vice president equity and sustainability and chair of the social justice committee, explained that the committee has been dealing with governance issues concerning quorum.

The proposed fee of $0.65 per credit to a maximum of 15 credits also effective September 2018 if approved would increase funding for all of the CSU’s collectives, including queer students, women, international students, students of colour, first nations students and mature students and student parents who will fall into a new collective led by a mature students and student parents liaison. The collectives draw their funding from the same pool, and with a new liaison the CSU’s resources currently allocated for their collectives will be stretched thin.

“The Queer Collective uses a really large chunk of the budget, sort of a disproportional amount, which isn’t bad because they aren’t taking away from other collective because other collectives don’t request as much as the Queer Collective often does,” said Sigurdsson. That money often goes towards larger events such as pride week. “The collectives themselves cover a really large group of students all across campus,” he said, which a lot of students relate to so few are excluded.

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