Students won’t see a rise in compulsory, non-academic fees above the usual indexes next September, the Council on Student Services decided on Friday, Feb. 27.
COSS voted down three motions that combined would have boosted 2009-10 student fees by at least $12.59.
Ancillary fees cover facilities such as the Hart House theatre, the Athletics Centre, and the university health clinics. By Ontario law, all hikes to compulsory, non-academic fees must be approved by a council where students are a majority—at U of T, that’s COSS.
“We heard a lot about how the economic crisis is affecting the university, but students aren’t immune to the crisis and we shouldn’t subject them to an increase,” said John Paul Cervas Catungal, COSS member and executive-at-large at the Graduate Students’ Union.
“If the university is really committed to its services, it should cover a larger portion of the costs,” he said.
The motions for raising fees came from the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, Hart House, and Student Life Programs and Services. Hart House, seeking the smallest increase at $0.46 for full-time St. George students and nine cents for part-time students, will lose the most by the economic turmoil. Beginning April, it will no longer receive its endowment payment from the university.
David Scrivener, COSS member and VP external at UTSU, said pocket change had little to do with the motion’s failure. “It was more the demand for a 2 per cent permanent increase. This would be in addition to the consumer price index or the U of T index, which Hart House already gets.”
The university provides facilities like Hart House with the higher of the CPI rate or the UTI rate. Each index is based on yearly inflation rates for specific goods or services.
Ken Brocklehurst, director of finance and information technology at Hart House, said the facility has already made several cutbacks to program availability and staffing levels, even as costs keep rising.
“We still have a temporary three-year amount that we will receive, but that’s nowhere near the amount we need,” said Brocklehurst.
Most students shot down the Phys Ed faculty’s motion because of the extra ancillary fees it received last year to build the Varsity Bubble.
The final proposal from Student Life also failed to strike a chord with students.
“We like the idea of increasing things like health and psychiatric services but there were aspects of the budget we didn’t agree with and it was all or nothing,” Scrivener said.