Report on STUSUâ€™s Membership within the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations 2/9/2012 St. Thomas University Studentsâ€™ Union Written by: Craig Mazerolle, Vice President Education
Page |1 One of the most talked about topics around the STUSU table over the past few years has been the issue of our membership within the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). In my four years on council, I have seen this debate play itself out in a variety of ways, but one common theme that has come up throughout the years has been the often heated tone of the debate. Whether it be the past members of council coming to speak about their personal experiences within the organization, or members of other universities coming to the STUSU council table to interject with their own ideas about CASA, it makes sense that this issue would spark such a reaction, since the topic can lend itself to being talked about in a very personal fashion. This year though, I hope we can have a civil debate amongst ourselves, as we think about what is best for the students we represent here at St. Thomas. When I ran last year for re-election to the position of Vice President Education, one of my platform pieces was to put our full membership within CASA to a vote, a vote that was further confirmed by a motion being past last year mandating this discussion. This report is therefore meant to guide this conversation, and act as a starting point for debate. Through all the work I have done over the past two years within CASA, coupled with my two years on council before becoming VP Education, I have come to understand how CASA works, as well as what it stands for. Briefly, this work includes two years as the primary STUSU delegate to a total of five CASA conferences, with a sixth conference coming up in March. I have contributed to various regional and national call-in meetings over the past two years, and have shared my input on a variety of topics, including CASAâ€™s communication and member relations portfolios. In the past year, I led STUSU to be one of the only member schools in the organization to bring forward motions meant to reform and change the organization, including motions on bilingualism, discrimination within CASA, travel costs, etc. Here on campus, I have organized two different campus-wide meet-and-greets with CASA staff and board members. I have organized a variety of events and opportunities for SRC members to talk and educate themselves about what CASA is, including a campus visit earlier this year, two town hall meetings, an email survey, and my constant open door policy for any councillor that wants to find out more about the organization. In addition to this direct engagement with CASA as VP Education, my two previous years as councillor also saw me involved in the organization through my membership on the University and Academic Affairs Committee (this committee used to deal with external matters before it was split into the UAA Committee and the External Action Committee). Coming from these years of working within CASA and the Studentsâ€™ Union, I am of the opinion that CASA does not best represent our interests here at St. Thomas. Throughout this report, I hope to make a case for why we should therefore vote to become Associate Members. Before continuing though, allow me to make one thing clear. If we vote to become an Associate Member, we are still a part of CASA. We do not leave the organization; we simply change our status within the organization to Associate Member, a position that many organizations have been in and out of over my time in CASA. In fact, if we were to use this vote to say that we are no longer members of CASA, you better believe that CASA would be banging
Page |2 down our doors with a lawyer wanting to prove otherwise. No, rather what this votes does is that it allows next year’s council to be in a position to have the actual vote on our membership, with the ability to either resume full membership within the organization, or to end STUSU’s membership within CASA. If next year’s council feels unable to make that decision, they can stay as Associate Members for at least another year. Also, it should be noted that, even if we decide to become Associate Members, and then next year’s council decides to leave the organization, a simple 50% +1 vote of council is all that is needed to re-join CASA.
Page |3 What Are the Special Needs of St. Thomas University? The first question we have to ask ourselves is what kind of representation do we want from a federal advocacy organization? St. Thomas University is a very unique institution within Canada, and so, by extension, our students’ union is also very unique in both its make-up and needs. Here are some of the concerns we should be conscious of: First of all, our operating revenue comes from one source, student dues. Now, while we do get a little money each year from sponsorships and investments, the bulk of our budget is comprised of what money we take from our members, the students. This limited revenue stream means that while other students’ unions are able to off-set the cost of running the organization through money they generate from businesses and advertising, we have to be especially careful with the way we spend our money. Each dollar we spend is directly out of the pockets of those we represent, so ensuring that our expenditures are giving us the best possible return is crucial when you have a budget as tight as ours. Another important aspect to consider about St. Thomas is our relative size to the rest of the country’s post-secondary institutions. With an average enrolment of 2300-2600 students, we are one of the smallest schools in Canada. To put our size in perspective, York University in Toronto houses about 55000 students, a student population that matches the population of Fredericton. Now, while we all know the great things that come with having such a tight-knit community, we also have to be cognizant of the issues that come with running a students’ union at such a small institution. In addition to the limited budget I mentioned above, we also have few resources to draw on in regards to human capital. For instance, while most students’ unions have two Vice Presidents in charge of advocacy issues (i.e., one in charge of internal, academic issues, and another one in charge of external initiatives), our particular model means that both these roles fall in the lap of the VP Education. Furthermore, even though last year’s creation of a Campaigns Coordinator position will help to alleviate some of the stress on future VP Educations, even this position was created to fill a void that some unions would have at least three different people filling (i.e., a person in charge of developing and coordinating campaigns, another in charge of helping to develop research and policy papers, and finally people being paid to go out and talk to students about PSE issues). I’ve had a blast taking on all these portfolios, but I also recognize that our limited stature means that elected representatives and hired employees of the STU Students’ Union are required to effectively wear many, many hats, and sometimes elements of these different portfolios are not covered as well as they could be. On the flip side of this tiny coin though is one of our strengths, that is, our ability to effectively engage and organize a vast majority of our student population. While a school like York or the University of British Columbia may have student populations that are the size of medium-sized cities, STU’s small, tight-knit community means that our students’ union is able to build strong relationships with most of the students we represent. Whether it be our ability to hit up most
Page |4 students with information tables in JDH and GMH, or a residence system where students feel like they are a part of a larger community, one of St. Thomas’ greatest strengths is our ability to come together so effectively. Now, it’s not to say that this kind of campus-wide organizing is easy, but the very fact that we can educate and engage with so many of our students is one of STUSU’s greatest assets. We saw this strength last year when our march had the Minister of PostSecondary Education come out and speak at our event, and also when our Fax Attack had the Minister reading out debt stories to a meeting of university presidents, faculty association leaders, and a variety of government officials. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must be conscious of the unique challenges that our student body faces. St. Thomas University’s ability to offer the lowest tuition fees in the Maritimes means that STU attracts students that would not be able to afford to attend a more expensive university, like Mount Allison. These economic factors, including the unique culture and history of St. Thomas University, has played a role in shaping the kinds of people that have become elected representatives of the STU Students’ Union, as well as the decisions councils have made throughout the years. Therefore, it has been the opinion of the STU Students’ Union for some time now that pressing for increases in government funding and reductions in tuition fees is one of our highest advocacy priorities. STU may have the lowest tuition fees in the province, but, after two decades of tuition fee increases that have vastly outpaced inflation, all against the backdrop of decreased employment prospects for young people, STUSU has felt that the students we represent need the federal and provincial governments to take this student debt situation seriously by properly funding universities. Councils across Canada all have unique institutional cultures and histories, and so their choices and representatives are also affected by the unique circumstances at their respective campuses. The unique nature of different student associations will determine each council’s own specific advocacy priorities and policies. That is to say, the decisions that we make for how to best address the concerns of our student body may not line up with other councils, but this difference does not mean that one council is “right” and the other” wrong”, rather that a council’s democratic process has brought them to this conclusion. Therefore, our goal should be to participate in a national organization where the interests of our students are being expressed on a regular basis. Taken together, these unique considerations mean that when we pay to enter into partnerships with different organizations, there are particular needs that must be addressed if we are to adequately represent our students: The organization should be pushing for the kind of change that our students want, namely, decreases in tuition fees and increases in up-front grants. The organization should ensure that our whole student body is being engaged in the process of pushing for change. The organization should give the STUSU representatives the ability to work with other students’ unions to share best practices and ideas.
Page |5 The organization should ensure that our small size is not a hindrance to full participation in the organization.
Page |6 History and Structure of CASA: The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations formed in the mid-1990s during the dramatic budget debates of then Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s first term in government. During this period, federal funding for post-secondary education (as well as a variety of other social services) was cut, and so the costs of funding universities were further downloaded onto the provinces and, by extension, students. This period in time had profound effects not only on tuition fees (which increased dramatically after these cuts), but the Canadian student movement also saw a new organization come into existence, as CASA arose out of this focused attention on post-secondary education. Since its founding, CASA’s main focus has been to lobby the federal government on issues of postsecondary education. The organization has engaged in a few “awareness campaigns” throughout the years, but the membership has consistently chosen to avoid large-scale, national organizing in favour of lobbying federal politicians and bureaucrats. Also, while it has had changing relationships over the years with provincial advocacy organizations (e.g., the New Brunswick Student Alliance, of which we are a member as well), the CASA membership has also chosen to ignore lobbying at the provincial level in favour of the federal government. To accomplish these tasks, the organization holds a series of three different conferences throughout the year (in addition to a series of smaller, regional orientation weekends) that are meant to both direct and implement the advocacy goals of the membership. These conferences include: 1. Policy and Strategy Conference 2. Lobby Conference 3. Annual General Meeting Policy and Strategy Conference: Usually held in the summer months, the Policy and Strategy Conference is when students’ union executives meet to decide on advocacy goals for the year. Though the process has changed slightly throughout the years I’ve been involved in the organization, the general process for deciding on advocacy goals should ideally go as follows: Delegates compile a laundry list of post-secondary education issues. These issues are voted on, with every issue receiving more than 50% support moving forward. This short-list of issues is ranked by the adequacy of pre-existing CASA policy for each issue, as well as the perceived political will for each issue on Parliament Hill. These judgments then form a draft “Policy Diamond” (See Appendix 1), which is in turn sent to the Closing Plenary of the conference where it is subjected to a final vote.
Page |7 The executive of the organization is also selected at this conference, and members of most CASA committees are chosen at this time as well. The conference is often a week long. Lobby Conference: Usually held in November (though it has been held in the weeks following the release of the federal budget), this conference involves students’ union executives lobbying politicians and bureaucrats in Ottawa. The policy asks being lobbied for should ideally come from what is voted on at Policy and Strategy, but sometimes CASA Home Office Staff will change the lobby document to be more in line with what people within the federal parties think is politically viable. Delegates attempt to use these lobby meetings to get politicians to write letters, ask questions in Question Period, or to talk with their colleagues in Parliament. The main success that the CASA Home Staff have claimed from this year’s conference was the federal Finance Committee mentioning that the single-vehicle exemption on the Canada Student Loans Program and aboriginal education are two issues that need further investigation. These issues were touched on by CASA delegates this year. This conference is a week long, and, while most internal issues are dealt with at either Policy and Strategy or AGM, members for the CASA Budget Committee are selected at this time, and internal issues can be addressed during this conference’s Closing Plenary. Annual General Meeting: Held in March, the AGM is where the year’s work is reviewed, and internal issues within the organization are generally addressed. CASA’s operating budget is perhaps the most important internal issue dealt with at this meeting, but changes to voting and membership fee structures are also generally handled at this meeting, as well as changes to the organization’s by-laws. This meeting has usually taken place over the course of a week, but this year the length of the AGM has been reduced by a few days.
Page |8 How Do These Needs Line Up with CASA? At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, “Does CASA line up with what we want out of a national student advocacy organization?” I do not see CASA as being in line with our needs, and that is why I am calling for us to become Associate Members. The following section will go into the main reasons for this divide: Pushing for the Kind of Change that Our Students Want: Stemming mainly from the organization’s belief that students can only push for small policy changes, as opposed to larger funding shifts, CASA has consistently ignored tuition fees as a major advocacy priority. Though CASA’s policy states that they oppose high tuition fees in principle, this policy position is not often acted upon, and instead CASA tends to focus its attention on making changes to the Canada Student Loans Program. This focus on student loan asks means that the main focus of CASA’s lobbying efforts revolves around increases to student loan limits or changes to student loan regulations. While it is true that these small policy changes can make life a little easier for students in the short term, this reliance on ever-increasing student loans is causing the problem of university underfunding (which has resulted in massive tuition fees increases over the past two decades) to become the student debt problem we are currently facing. The average student in Atlantic Canada will graduate with a little over $37,000 in debt, and so when CASA talks about promoting accessibility for post-secondary education through access to student loans, it is important to remember that access to the university with a large debt load is not the same as affordable accessibility. These asks turn one problem into another, and end up adequately solving neither. The closest that CASA will come to taking on tuition fees in their advocacy work is when they push for dedicated federal transfers for post-secondary education. This lobby ask was included in last year’s Lobby Document, and it called for: “The federal government [to] create a dedicated cash transfer to the provincial governments for post-secondary education, separate from the Canada Social Transfer.” (p. 23). This would mean that as opposed to federal funding for postsecondary education being lumped in with the rest of the money that the Canadian government transfers to the provinces for social spending (which, in addition to post-secondary education, includes childcare and other social services), this funding would be explicitly meant to fund universities and colleges. Now, while this ask has been included in past documents intermittently, the inclusion of this ask in last year’s Lobby Document was what I originally saw as a positive step forward for the organization. Yet, even with this position, last year’s Lobby Document suggested that funding coming from “existing money in the Canada Social Transfer” (p. 23) would be as acceptable as new money, therefore pitting the different sectors of the Social Transfer against each other. Furthermore, the ask was hastily added after a debate between the CASA Board of Directors and Home Staff (the latter of which did not want it included in the document), and, even when it did make it into the document, very few delegates were instructed by the CASA Home Staff to lobby on this issue with
Page |9 politicians. Finally, it should be noted that this year the membership voted not to include the dedicated transfers in the Lobby Document. In making this decision, the membership cited both the inadequacy of CASA policy and research on the subject (something that was very apparent when we went into last year’s lobby meetings with confusing numbers and statistics), as well as the perceived lack of political will in government for this ask. The issue of the dedicated transfers leads to another issue with the advocacy goals of CASA, and specifically how they are decided on. Political will in government is used as a measure of whether or not a policy goal should be advocated for, and it is another major issue within the organization. As mentioned above, CASA figures out what it will lobby on year-to-year by asking the membership to create a laundry list of goals that will then be judged on both the adequacy of CASA policy, as well as the perceived political will in Ottawa to push for that issue. Now, while being certain that CASA policy is up-to-date is a reasonable and important measure, using perceived political will as a measure of whether or not an issue should be lobbied on is problematic. In essence, this measure of political viability changes the discussion from, “What do students want?” to “What will government let us have?” This move stands in opposition to what a pressure group like CASA should be doing, because, instead of consistently pushing for advocacy goals year after year that the membership wants, the organization will latch onto a particular issue one year, and a different one the next. Now, while there is a staff member tasked with trying to open up more opportunity for those items that are deemed politically unpopular (i.e., the Government Relations Officer), this set-up again causes student concerns to fall to the wayside of whether or not an issue is felt to be politically viable or not. This process of choosing advocacy priorities is perhaps best encapsulated by CASA’s recent decision to turn the Members Relations Officer (a position that was meant to communicate with students’ unions, monitor student papers and council minutes of CASA members, prepare for conferences, etc.) into a Stakeholder Relations Manager. Though mainly a name change, this new title represents how the advocacy process generally takes place at CASA, that is, student concerns are not the only factor taken into consideration when determining what ideas and goals should be promoted, but rather government officials are considered to be “stakeholders” in CASA as well. Government will generally push students and other advocacy groups to ask for and expect less, and so, as an advocacy organization, CASA’s goal should be to make government priorities more in line with student issues. That is, it is possible to take political considerations into how you lobby without allowing these considerations to dictate what you lobby on. Another issue with this process for picking advocacy priorities is that it causes CASA to sometimes take credit for victories that they had only a small part to play in. By latching onto issues at supposedly political viable moments means that CASA is, in essence, working off the advocacy work of other organizations, and then claiming that their lobbying was the sole reason a particular issue was successfully addressed. These claims can therefore make it difficult to build meaningful coalitions with other national organizations.
P a g e | 10 A recent example of this situation was the 2009 increase to deferred maintenance funding. Even though the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (an organization that represents the interests of the Canadian post-secondary sector) has been consistently lobbying on this issue for many years, CASA claimed this increase to deferred maintenance was the sole victory of CASA’s efforts. Though CASA had spoken on the issue several times in the early 2000s as well as the year before the increase, the idea that this inconsistent lobbying was the reason the increase happened offended some member schools so much that they suggested the CASA National Director should apologize to the AUCC for overstating CASA’s role. Engaging the Student Body: One of the defining features of CASA is that, as opposed to individual students, it considers student associations to be its membership. Now, while this may seem like a minor point to bring up, it means that CASA makes certain organizational decisions that other representative groups would not. The most obvious result of this decision is that CASA has a model where we, as the elected council of the STU Students’ Union, are the ones who ultimately decide on whether or not STUSU is a member of CASA. In other words, councils vote whether or not their schools are members of CASA, as opposed to student-centred models where the students will decide on membership through campus-wide referendums. This process of deciding on membership can lead to some questions of accountability, i.e., “Do individuals students really have a say in who represents their union nationally?”, but this issue is not my main concern. No rather, by seeing the student councils as members of the organization, as opposed to the individual students, CASA follows an advocacy model where individual students are not the main focus of their efforts. Therefore, instead of working with students’ unions to help them educate and organize their student body to become active advocates for post-secondary education, the focus is rather put on facilitating lobbying efforts for the representatives of students’ unions. The main selling point for the organization is its stated dedication to lobbying above other tactics, and it is this almost sole focus on lobbying as a means of advocacy that is an issue for St. Thomas. Lobbying has its place within advocacy, there is no question about it. By sitting down and talking with decision makers, we have the opportunity to ensure our position is being properly understood. We can even push for small changes here and there by putting forward a particularly convincing case, the kind of change CASA tends to focus on. But, when we are looking for larger, more transformational changes, we have to be conscious of what power students actually have to push for change. That is, as opposed to an industry lobbyist that can go to government and threaten to send thousands of jobs overseas if their company’s policy demands are not met, students do not have that kind of influence. Our strength rather stems from our ability to organize in great numbers and create the kind of political power that politicians are concerned about disturbing. Furthermore, by educating and organizing students to be passionate about issues surrounding the quality and funding of their education, we can also exert great pressure on our families and communities to take these issues seriously. This kind of political organizing needs lobbying to compliment it so that the collective message is understood by the people in
P a g e | 11 positions of power, but, without an organized and educated student movement to back up this kind of lobbying, it can only achieve so much. A sign of this reluctance to organize students to form a potent political force came from one of our motions at last year’s Lobby Conference. STUSU brought forward a motion to the CASA membership to hold a national campaign calling for lower tuition fees. Not only did the motion fail, but not one of the over twenty schools at the CASA table decided to second the motion. It should be noted that this motion was originally proposed by an Off-Campus rep from STU, and was later approved unanimously by council. STU’s strength comes from our ability to organize our students, but we need help to make this happen. We had spoken in the past about our concerns over CASA campus visits, because, while I have no issue with CASA staff and representatives coming to campus, I believe that the lack of student attendance at our meet-and-greet events show that students do not need their national advocacy organization coming to campus to simply sell them on the organization, but rather students need to be given concrete ways they can participate in pushing for real change in PSE. As mentioned above, CASA has attempted to conduct a few outreach initiatives throughout its existence, but these campaigns are often not well put together or received. A recent example of these attempts was last year’s essay contest. Ads were placed in student newspapers across the country calling for students to submit policy papers, an offer that only a handful of students took CASA up on. Sharing Best Practices: One of the great things about CASA conferences is that it allows the executives of students’ unions to travel across Canada and meet with other delegates. These week-long trips allow you to hang out and network with others in your position, many of whom are fascinating and funny people. Also, during the two Lobby Conferences I’ve attended, there has the ability to rub elbows and personally introduce yourself to a few fairly important figures in Canadian political life. Regardless of my thoughts surrounding the value of CASA to STUSU, I, and many before me, have always enjoyed the opportunities that attending these conferences have opened up for the President and Vice President Education. Now, while it is certainly nice to meet up with these different students from across the country, we have to ask ourselves if the membership fees and travel costs associated with CASA are the best way to facilitate this kind of information-sharing. The money spent on CASA could also be used to send members of the executive to skill-building conferences that are often held across the country for students’ unions. We could even use this money to send the entire executive to conferences that would improve their ability to supply services and advocate for student interests. Furthermore, it is common practice with students’ unions across the country to call each other when they are dealing with issues they feel other student associations might have experienced. I myself have picked up the phone and cold-called several students’ union representatives I didn’t know, and past STUSU members have been called by other schools. This has nothing to do with
P a g e | 12 membership in one organization or another, but rather it is a shared recognition that students’ union go through very similar issues across the country. In a way, small schools often have more in common than larger schools, and so we’ve gotten calls from members of organizations other than CASA to ask about how we are able to run our services so effectively on such a small budget (Safe Wheels being a main one). Finally, through our membership within the New Brunswick Student Alliance, we are only a phone call or board meeting away from meeting with other student leaders from across the province. Other Issues with Our Small Size: Though many of the issues I have already raised deal with the considerations that a small school must make when approaching a national student organization, there are two other points I would like to briefly touch on, i.e., CASA’s voting structure and travel costs. One of the founding principles of CASA was the idea of “one member, one vote”. This was a principle STUSU delegations have sought to protect over the years, because, by ensuring that a school as small as ours has the same vote as a member like the University of Alberta (i.e., one of CASA’s biggest members sitting at around 30000 students), we are able to have a similar amount of influence. Yet, one of the reasons STUSU members (myself included) have had to push so hard for the “one member, one vote” system has been that the larger associations feel their relative level of influence within the organization does not match up with the amount they pay in. These larger schools have generally wanted a voting structure where votes are doled out by the number of students you represent. This voting structure is often-referred to as a “per-student model”. Therefore, after years of lengthy debates over voting structure, the CASA membership decided to institute a mixed voting structure in the spring of 2010. This particular model called for a motion to require both a majority of member schools, as well as a majority of students represented by these schools, to support a motion if it was to pass. This hybrid model was given a one-year sunset clause to test its efficacy, and, during the 2011 AGM, the voting model was eventually struck down. This decision was originally welcomed by STUSU, as “one member, one vote” seemed to have been restored, but, after some complicated by-law changes during the conference’s Closing Plenary, it was eventually decided that some decisions would still require the aforementioned hybrid model to pass. Several of this issues are mostly procedural, but the most significant issue still requiring this hybrid model are decisions on CASA advocacy policy. The other issue are the travel costs. Now, while the new fee structure is based mainly on a perstudent model, travel costs are not included in these expenses. Though different students’ unions obviously budget different amounts for travel costs (whether they be from a particularly remote campus, or from a student association that normally sends more than two delegates to any given conference), these costs are generally pretty standard across the member schools. Therefore, even though our fees are based more or less on our ability to pay, travel costs are often
P a g e | 13 unrepresentative of the costs they incur on individual studentsâ€™ unions. One positive element that has come from the motions we have brought forward to CASA over the years has been the inclusion of conference fees into overall membership fees, meaning that these particular costs are spread out across the membership. Conference calls are already used to lower travel costs for special meetings (i.e., meetings on one or two pressing issues), so alternative cost-cutting measures could be used to reduce travel costs in the future. A travel cost that needs to be lowered is the CASA staffâ€™s biennial campus tour. Measures are being put into place to lower these costs (e.g., some campuses have used Skype to communicate with CASA Home Office), but more could be done.
P a g e | 14 Changes to Fee Structure: Both voting and fee structures have been a topic of debate at CASA for many years, and, since voting structure has already been addressed earlier on in this report, I wanted to briefly touch on recent changes to the CASA fee structure. The organization used to work on a model where a school’s membership fees were determined by a school’s ability to pay. This structure meant that factors such as: numbers of students, revenue generated from student-run businesses, etc. were all included in determining a school’s annual membership fees. Known as the TAGR model, this set-up saw St. Thomas budgeting around $5000/year for membership fees. This model was seen as unrepresentative by several schools within CASA, so many conferences were spent debating whether or not the TAGR model should be replaced with a model where member schools would pay a certain amount of money per full-time student. These debates led to the creation of a fee structure (approved during the 2011 AGM) where schools would pay a certain amount of money per student, with the amount per student dropping as the schools grew in size. That is, schools would pay a certain amount of money per full-time student for the first several thousand, followed by a lower amount for the next several thousand, and so on. The new model was designed to be revenue-neutral, meaning that the membership fees would be adjusted so that CASA’s budget would not be significantly higher or lower, but rather that the distribution for paying fees would be altered. While this new model broke away from the old TAGR model, two elements of the old model remained, i.e., the fee “floor” and “ceiling”. These special stipulations mean that no school pays above a certain amount (“ceiling”), while conversely, no school pays below a certain amount (“floor”). STUSU found this practice to be inappropriate in light of the new “per-student” model, arguing that the larger schools were receiving a more advantageous position within the new model than the smaller schools, and instead advocated for the removal of both the floor and ceiling. In addition to their removal, we also called for an adjustment to the differing per-student amounts, therefore ensuring that the model would remain revenue-neutral. This idea was struck down during the 2011 AGM, with a handful of schools supporting the measure. This new model means that if this year’s numbers were applied to the new per-student model, we would have paid $7985.23 this year in membership fees. Amounting to about a 60% increase in fees, we will be taking on one of the largest fee increases within CASA. The changes to the delegate fee structure, as mentioned above, should be considered as well, as this amount to about $1650/year. This would help ease the burden of the fee increase, but it should be noted that the Conferences line in the STUSU budget (where delegate fees now come from) is often underfunded as is. For the specific numbers of this per-student fee model, see Appendix 2.
P a g e | 15 Becoming an Associate Member: So, in the end, what would becoming Associate Members mean for St. Thomas University? Associate Members pay half the membership fees of a Full Member. Associate Members do not have voting rights, but are able to participate in all of CASA’s meetings throughout the year (with the exception of in-camera proceedings), and are able to speak on any issue put before the membership. Our time as an Associate Member will give the next year’s council the opportunity to review the pros and cons of the organization with a fresh set of eyes, and they will then be able to make a decision on whether or not they believe CASA is working for STUSU. During this period, the money saved from the reduction in membership fees could be used to focus on our advocacy work here in New Brunswick, perhaps with the hiring of a Policy and Research Director, or the purchase of a permanent campaigns table. Ultimately, this decision must be made with the interests of STU students in mind, and, while I have my opinions on what should be done, I know we’ll make the right decision for St. Thomas.
P a g e | 16 Appendix 1: Policy Diamond
P a g e | 17 Appendix 2: Per-Student Fee Model:
RANGE: 1 to 6000 6001 to 12000 12001 to 20000 20001 and Above
COST PER FTE: $3.17 $2.97 $2.70 $2.40