Understanding the curious “Business and Professional Associations” Fee

New student levy could undercut non-Business students in the Faculty


A new student levy could mean students in the Schools of Communication and Legal Studies will be paying another fee on top of their standard tuition and regular fees to fund Business associations that have no bearing on their academic paths.

On Mar. 22, the results of the referendum and Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) general election were announced. Five proposed fees or fee increases were put to referendum, two of them were ratified, one of those was the Business and Professional Associations fee. It passed by a slim margin, receiving 206 yes votes and 199 no votes.

The levy will allow the Capilano Undergraduate Business Enterprise of Students (CUBES) and the several business associations it oversees to detach themselves from the School of Business and join the CSU umbrella.

According to Elle Donnelly, interim president of CUBES, the associations have been able to draw some funding from the School of Business, but joining the CSU would require additional financial assistance because the student union can’t support the operation of these associations. According to Donnelly, acquiring funds from the School of Business was like “pulling teeth”, and transitioning to the CSU will greatly increase their visibility and engagement on campus.

The fee, set at $1.99 per credit to a maximum tune of 15 credits per semester, was determined by projecting the needs of the associations. It will also only be assessed to students in the Faculty of Business and Professional Studies. The fee adheres to the Canadian Consumer Price Index, which means that it will be increased annually. “My goals are to greatly improve the visibility and accessibility of the associations to students,” said Donnelly. “We want to be able to serve business students as best we can, and provide more social and free events.”

While the official description of the fee’s purpose has noble intentions, the results are casting a light on a not-so- secret reality about CapU – smaller programs within their faculties can get overlooked. CUBES and the associations it oversees are rooted solely in the School of Business, but the levy will be assessed to students across the entire Faculty of Business and Professional Studies. In this case, students from the Schools of Communication and Legal Studies will be taxed to prop up a service they likely will never benefit from.

Christopher Girodat, general manager of the CSU, noted that it was communicated with the associations’ student leaders that students in the entire faculty, not just the School of Business, must see benefits from the new society fee. Donnelly hopes that CUBES can better integrate the rest of the faculty. “One of my hopes is to engage students and encourage the formation of a legal association and a communications association,” she said. “It would be an awesome addition to what we have already and I think there are some keen students out there who would benefit from it.”

Though the thought is welcome and may one day prove to be fruitful, history suggests otherwise. Donnelly admitted that dialogue with the rest of the Faculty was minimal prior to the presentation and implementation of the fee, citing that the lack of representation of communications and legal studies students as a factor. “Unfortunately, there was not much representation from these stakeholders,” she said. “We tried to engage students by holding four tabling events, forums on social media, [advertising] all over the school and classroom visits.”

Sue Dritmanis and Ted Hamilton, co-chairs of the School of Communication Studies, as well as John Fairlie, convenor of the School of Legal Studies, were all unaware of the fee’s proposal and implementation until now. In an email correspondence, Hamilton referred to the Fee as “fishy”, while Fairlie admitted that it has “come as a surprise” and he is unsure how it will benefit non- business students.

Per Donnelly, the current engagement levels between the business associations and students in the Schools of Communication and Legal Studies is low.

Despite the lack of dialogue, the Business and Professional Associations fee was still brought up in referendum and voted through.

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