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News Brief: Council authorizes, refuses fees, approves referendum questions

Council approved a combined $20.40 a year increase to ancillary fees Thursday, allowing the administration to increase the Student Services Fee, the Athletics Fee, and administrative charges.

However, a further $10 a year for the Student Services Fee and the Athletics Fee were submitted for approval in a referendum in March, because combined with the other increases, they were more than inflation.

SSMU by-laws allow, but do not require, Council to approve fees that at or under inflation. Fees that are not approved can be rejected or sent to a referendum.

A full-time student taking the standard 15 credits a term will pay $956.30 a year in ancillary fees, which also include the Information Technology and Registration Charges.

Increases to the registration fee for new students – from $60 to $70 for in-province students and from $80 to $84 for others – were rejected mainly because councillors felt it reduced access to the University, although the in-province increase was rejected because Councillor Hanchu Chen noticed, at the last minute, that the increase was well over inflation. Council had the opportunity to send these two fees to referendum as well, but because students rejected similar increases in a fall referendum, it decided to pass a motion stating it would not authorize any increase in registration fees for the 2009-2010 academic year.

However, because the recently-passed Quebec law requiring students to approve ancillary fee increases only applies to McGill students, not applicants, McGill is still charging the higher rate to applicants and will refund the difference for those who actually enroll.

Council also passed a number of changes to SSMU by-laws, which it has failed to pass for many meetings due to a lack of quorum for by-law changes – two-thirds, as opposed to the normal half-plus-one for most business.

Also, one week earlier, immediately after the General Assembly (GA), Council agreed to approve four referendum questions, three of which were fee renewals and increases from last semester that failed to reach quorum.

The questions are a $0.75 per semester increase for QPIRG, and renewals for the $10 per semester Athletics Facilities Improvement Fee and the $19 per semester McGill Undergraduate Student Fund, which includes the Access Bursary Fund, the Library Improvement Fund, and the Campus Life Fund. The last question is on GA reform.

McGill says annual undergraduate society fees range from $289.60 to $563.76.