Hart House will no longer charge graduate students a summer fee for access to athletic facilities this year, but will reintroduce the fee in the 2013-2014 year, warden Bruce Kidd said April 30 at a University Affairs Board (UAB) meeting.
The announcement came days after the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) published a membership advisory accusing Kidd of using “deceit and deception” to enact the policy change, which would see graduate students pay $79.39 for access from May 1–August 31.
“The new Hart House policy changes distress your union, as does the manner in which they have been carried out,” read the advisory, published April 26. “Warden Kidd and the administration of Hart House have resorted to deception and dishonesty to get this policy in place.”
The advisory claimed Kidd neglected to inform members of the GSU of the policy change, and declined to address GSU concerns about the change.
Hart House administration disputed these claims.
“The change was approved through processes where the GSU has representation,” wrote Rita O’Brien, acting warden, in a letter to The Varsity.
“It was presented at the Hart House Finance Committee as part of the 2013–2014 Hart House budget, by the Hart House Board of Stewards, presented to the Council [on][CK1] Student Services (COSS), and then approved by UAB.”
The GSU has representatives on the Finance Committee, the Board of Stewards, and COSS.
O’Brien said the policy change was intended “to bring the fees for graduate students in line with those of undergraduate students,” who must pay an ancillary fee to use the athletic facilities if they are not registered during the summer semester.
She referred to the current fee structure as a “historic anomaly,” and said the changes were meant to “create parity between graduate and undergraduate students.”
GSU Internal Commissioner Brad Evoy said the GSU was not consulted in a “meaningful way” about the changes, and that the change “misrepresents the nature of graduate student registration within the university.”
“As graduates, we are registered (once registered for the winter semester) for the months of January up to the end of August,” wrote Evoy. “As such, fee changes which regard being registered during the summer months should not affect us in any way, as we are indeed registered for said period.”
Under the current arrangement, Hart House will difer the implemetnation of the summer fee for one year and will refund those who have paid it so far.
However, in a May 4 membership update the GSU announced that it intended to further contest the fees, following a motion passed April 29 by the GSU’s General Council. The motion calls upon members and affiliated organizations “to boycott and avoid cooperation with Hart House until the restoration of summer access for graduate students.”
The GSU will hold a town hall May 23 to discuss the fee.