CSU Judicial Board Upholds Per-Faculty Fee Levy Question

Referendum on Funding for Independent Student Groups to Appear on the Ballot

The Concordia Student Union Judicial Board has approved a modified version of a referendum question passed by CSU council asking undergrads if they want fee-levy group referendum questions to be counted on a per-faculty basis.

The question was challenged by QPIRG-Concordia and the Centre for Gender Advocacy on the grounds that it would discriminate on the voting power of CSU members based on their faculty.

“The success of such a referendum question would effectively and arbitrarily seek to disenfranchise huge swaths of the CSU membership within its own structure by denying them the right to cast a ballot collectively as one body on given CSU referendums,” reads the challenge filed by the two fee-levy groups. The challenge also asserts that this by-faculty voting would violate the union’s bylaws and the provincial act governing the accreditation and financing of student associations, which define all members as equal.

However, Commerce and Administration Students’ Association VP Academic Loïc Sanscartier, who was present to argue the merits of the question, said that since fee-levy groups are independent of the union, the question would create no discrimination on the union’s activities for members.

Sanscartier was one of three signatories for the original petition that spurred Council passing the question.

“The Judicial Board found that the Accreditation Act applies only to the Concordia Student Union and acknowledges that there is a difference between Student Union Fees and fees collected for fee-levy groups. […] The fee levy groups are independent organizations which therefore should not be considered ‘activities’ of the CSU,” reads the decision issued by the Judicial Board.

The challenge also sought to strike down the question due to CSU Standing Regulation 93, which states five days’ notice must be given to groups whose funding or space would be affected by a motion by Council.

“The Judicial Board decided unanimously that CSU Standing Regulation Article 93 was in fact not breached given that this referendum question on its own does not directly affect space or funding of CSU umbrella groups. The question is regarding the tallying of votes, not space or funding,” reads the decision.

While the question will remain on the ballot, its wording has been altered slightly.

The new wording reads: “There are independent groups that receive funding from Concordia students called Fee Levy Groups to provide resources and services to students and the Concordia community. Should the results of referenda concerning fee levies be tallied on a per-faculty basis, the results of which would apply only to that faculty? For the purpose of these referenda, Independent students will be considered as a faculty.”

Council’s original question noted that independent groups “can petition for a fee to be charged to all undergraduate students,” which QPIRG-Concordia representatives argued was misleading—since there are several other steps in gaining the requested fee from students.

A line asking the CSU “to take whatever steps are needed” to ensure this change was also removed from the question.

The question, with this new wording, will appear on the ballot during the CSU general elections being held from March 25 – 27.