Fee not option for ESS

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Education students won’t pay Queen’s Centre fee, SGPS says

Jeff Welsh, Society of Graduate and Professional Students president, says he thinks the AMS will make up its budget shortfall with increased undergraduate student enrollment.
Jeff Welsh, Society of Graduate and Professional Students president, says he thinks the AMS will make up its budget shortfall with increased undergraduate student enrollment.

The Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) won’t make the Education Students’ Society (ESS) fork over its Queen’s Centre fee to the AMS.

The ESS, which represents education students who have normally already completed an undergraduate degree, voted in January to leave the AMS and join the SGPS.

The AMS signed a memorandum of understanding with the University in December 2005 pledging $25.5 million in student fees to the Queen’s Centre.

The SGPS didn’t sign an agreement with the University to contribute capital funds to the project.

SGPS President Jeff Welsh said the SGPS made a one-time payment of $26,901 in early 2009 from its reserve funds to the services that would have received fees from ESS members to prevent them from having a budget shortfall because of the ESS’s sudden departure mid-year. Welsh said the money was distributed to all of the services the ESS students would have contributed to as AMS members, with the exception of the Queen’s Centre fund.

There are about 700 education students, he said.

“No one wanted to see those services suffer,” he said.

Welsh said the SGPS met with the AMS after the ESS referendum to discuss fee settlement options.

“Given that, by far, the biggest difference between students for AMS members and student fees for SGPS members was that Queen’s Centre fee, the AMS raised the issue about whether or not the ESS members would continue paying that.”

Welsh said he doesn’t think it’s fair for some of the SGPS members to continue paying fees to another student society. “From the SGPS perspective, the general principle is that members of one student society pay that student society’s fees.”

Welsh said he thinks the AMS will make up for the loss of the education students’ Queen’s Centre contributions in part through increases in enrollment, an observation he made based on the Registrar’s Office projections.

“The AMS membership has been growing, enrollments have been growing,” he said. “So the number of students available over the full period of time of payment of this fee will, in fact, be larger by the end of that period than it was at the beginning.” The Registrar’s Office reports the planned undergraduate enrollment for 2009 is 3,597 compared to 3,492 students in 2005.

AMS President Michael Ceci said he thinks the ESS should fulfill its Queen’s Centre fee commitment to the AMS.

“Changing umbrella student government membership from the AMS to the SGPS cannot obviate the ESS’s clear ethical and legally binding responsibility to fulfill this financial obligation, the establishment of which had their full consent as a member society of the AMS at the time the contribution was approved by the AMS Annual General Meeting.”

AMS members pay $71 each year in fees towards the Queen’s Centre, which will be increased to $141 next year once the Centre is expected to be fully operational. The fee will remain at $141 until the $25.5 million commitment is met, he said.

If ESS members don’t pay the fees, the AMS Queen’s Centre fund could lose up to $100,000 at a rate of $141 per student each year.

When asked what the AMS plans to do if the ESS doesn’t pay the fee, Ceci said he won’t speculate on the question because the issue is still being discussed.

“It’s all hypothetical because it’s certainly still an aspect of our disagreement with the ESS.”

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