AUSU has just announced their proposed fee increase. While this has been expected for some time, what we haven’t known is the amount the fees were going up. The first reading of the policy that will increase the fees by $1.50 per credit has been scheduled for the January 15, 2017. This is an increase of 50% of the current fee, meaning that the fees for a normal three credit course will increase from $9 to $13.50. This will be AUSU’s first fee increase in almost ten years. Inflation over that same period would have brought the fees close to $3.50/course, meaning the amount of actual increase (as opposed to just catch up) is about a dollar.
Even with this fee increase, AUSU will remain one of the lowest cost/credit Alberta student associations that exist. On the flip side, they also provide the among the fewest student services of Alberta student association, as they do not provide any lockers, or a building, restaurant, or bring in bands or other entertainment as many student associations do. But that also means, as we flip the coin once again, that they aren’t able to charge money for any of those services, some of which serve to earn the student associations offering them a tidy profit.
And if things aren’t already confusing enough, then there’s how recently AUSU was voicing concern about whether students outside of Alberta would have to accept a tuition increase. There are no plans for AUSU to only charge these fees to Alberta students, so in some ways this increase during the freeze of tuition and (suggested) freeze of university charged mandatory fees, works against their own messaging.
As a student newspaper, I feel like there is a certain pressure or expectation for me to come out against the fee increase, but, honestly, I’m not sure that I can this time. I’ll admit, I’m a little surprised by the amount as, basing it on the current budget, a fee increase of this much would have AUSU bringing in an extra $320,000 per year, with the organization currently operating on a defict of about $250,000 per year. That means they’re planning to bring in an extra $70,000 beyond their current budget. That’s nearly a second Voice Magazine, but I somehow doubt I’ll see my own wage or our rates to writers double any time soon.
That all said, that extra money will give future AUSU councils some expansion room if they have their eyes on some other projects, and will allow them to comfortably expand the number of students on AUSU Council (something that I think is very important to do now that the general student population no longer has the final word on bylaw or fee changes).
In the meantime, this week in The Voice Magazine our feature article is a look at what makes AU special. So if someone ever asks you, “Why are you going to a distance school?”, you can just give them the link and walk away.
Also, one in a long while we get a poetry submission. Honestly, I rarely take poetry, it’s just too subjective as to whether somebody likes it or not. But then someone pointed out to me that maybe it was my own subjectivity that’s the problem; somebody else might really want to see some. So for all you poetry lovers out there, here’s one for you. Enjoy the read!