Editorial: The Levy Doesn’t Break

Graphic Graeme Shorten Adams

In a move that brings the monthly magazine back into our collective consciousness, Concordia’s Board of Governors has suspended L’Organe’s fee levy—after the publication has been out of print for two years.

L’Organe is not dead, however. Students have three semesters to bring it back before its fee levy is removed, which just means that three semesters’ worth of money won’t be collected. Since it has been collected for the past two years without printing, this isn’t cause for concern—just due diligence on the part of Concordia’s Board that students don’t pay for a service they’re not getting.

Fee levies at Concordia are forever, technically. If you can keep functioning, then your levy is safe. If operations cease, like L’Organe, then funding is put in jeopardy. That’s why CUTV needs to re-apply for its fee levy under new management this spring.

We hope to see a revival of L’Organe. Magazines are one of the few bright spots in today’s uncertain print industry, and getting that first shot at being published is invaluable. It was also the only French-language publication Concordia had. If you want to be part of L’Organe’s return, then get in touch with the Concordia Student Union.

It’s important to note that L’Organe’s current situation is no fault of the university administration, nor of the way fee levies are handled in general. Its staff all left in the same year, and banking complications delayed attempts to get the magazine running again. Turnover issues get a whole lot messier when there’s nothing to keep running.

This is a product of the kind of independence fee levy groups possess. They must sink or swim by themselves, holding their own bylaws and maintaining their governing body. As not-for-profit corporations, they must abide by applicable laws. Their strength, above all else, lies in their self-determination.

For campus media like L’Organe (and yours truly), it means the freedom to be critical of those in power at Concordia without the fear of being shut down.

There has been talk of new policy on defining student groups, but the current system is not broken. And it’s imperative that the independence that defines fee levy groups at Concordia remains intact.

Concordia policy should not dictate any part of a fee levy group’s bylaws; the makeup of its board must be decided by its membership. University policy putting restrictions on who can be on a board works against its independence.

The university may also soon provide financial and advisory services to fee-levy groups and those seeking a levy, but making these services mandatory would contradict this independence.

Such services could surely be a huge help to certain groups, but making them compulsory wouldn’t make sense for groups with their own administrator. As this policy shaping moves forward, there should be nothing paternalistic about the way fee levy groups interact with the university administration.

Concordia’s Policy on the Recognition of Student Organizations and the Use of University Space is not currently listed on the university website but is available through search engines. It’s what defines student groups, and what privileges they are afforded, in balance with the rights of students and the university Code.

The preamble of the policy sums up this need for independence nicely: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental principle and one which is a prerequisite to the essential mission of a university, namely the pursuit of knowledge. This principle requires the ability to question and debate any subject even the most controversial.”

It’s in this spirit that fee levies must be maintained, above all else. It’s essential to what makes Concordia, well, Concordia.