CSU’s Equity and Sustainability Fee Passes in 2019 Referendum

61 per cent vote in favour of new, mental health-centred fee

Omar Salem, Contributor

Polling for Capilano University’s 2019 spring referendum has come to an end and the results have been tallied. With 61 per cent in favour, the Capilano Students’ Union’s (CSU) Equity and Sustainability fee has been approved, assessed at $0.79 per credit up to a maximum of 15 credits per semester. The three concerns addressed in the CSU’s mandate are the availability of resources geared towards mental health on campus, making sure students are represented in an equal and ethical manner and lastly, a push for a more sustainable environment. Ultimately, the purpose behind this fee is to increase the CSU’s capacity to engage in social responsibility.

Anna-Elaine Rempel, CSU president and vice-president equity & sustainability, told the Capilano Courier that this initiative begins with mental health. “It’s an area of concern I think everyone can relate to,” she said. With the fee approved, the CSU is now able to do much more in terms of spreading awareness through educational programming and de-stigmatization campaigns. Moreover, it increases the frequency in which direct support services can be provided to CapU students. Some of these already existing services include the massage and dog therapy events.

The CSU also aims to support students in seeking accomodation, or through the arduous and confusing process of an academic appeal. Students who require help with these kinds of tasks may now seek the services of a CSU representative, who will then guide them through the necessary processes, provide all the relevant information and make sure that proper procedures are being followed. Prior to the spring 2019 referendum, the CSU did not have the capacity to provide the same support. With the Equity and Sustainability fee having now been passed, the objective is to have more students reach out to the CSU when they need to.

Rempel acknowledged that students deriving from groups with additional barriers tend to experience issues with their mental health at a higher frequency. The new fee allows more to be done in terms of supporting the initiatives of the various collectives on campus, and hosting events such as Pride Month or Mental Health Awareness Month. Additionally, the fee will further support the Greentainer program and activities like clothing swaps on campus that are meant to save students money and cultivate a brighter, more sustainable future. Rempel explained that when her position of vice-president equity & sustainability was created, resources to help support the sustainability portion  of her portfolio were not provided, something the new fee will better address going forward.

This is the third referendum Rempel has been a part of, and she has seen firsthand the benefits students can realize as a result of very minor fee increases. The External Advocacy fee passed in 2017 allowed the CSU to gain accreditation with the Canadian Alliance of Students Association (CASA), a “non-partisan, not-for-profit student organization”. This has allowed for greater representation on both the federal and provincial levels, access to more resources, and the ability to be a part of the campaigns CASA engages in. Other initiatives that have benefited students include the IT repair service that was introduced last year.

The CSU acknowledges that feedback from students indicates mental health as being the most important advocacy position that requires the most attention, with an emphasis on de-stigmatization. Seeing this referendum passed was just the first step in the CSU’s plans to better address these issues.

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