In an attempt to reduce the growing deficit of the Student Constables service, students will pay an additional $1.66 in fees each year.
The mandatory StuCon fee increase from $8.34 to $10 is the result of a motion passed almost unanimously at the AMS Annual General Meeting last Tuesday.
AMS Hospitality and Safety Services Director Gracie Goad said the StuCon budget this year projected a $25,000 deficit.
“The revenue didn’t cover the operational expenses, so we were facing a deficit,” she said.
There are 80 student constables that work at the AMS Pub Service (TAPS), which includes Queen’s Pub and Alfie’s, Clark Hall and other smaller events.
Goad said this isn’t the first year the service has been in the red.
“We faced it last year as well, and it was getting incrementally worse since Bill C-159 came into effect where all security guards had to be licensed through the Ministry of Ontario,” Goad, ArtSci ’11, said.
Bill C-159 was passed in 2005, but didn’t come into effect until December 2009.
It was within this four-year period that the StuCons started parting a deficit, Goad said.
“It costs $700 to license a Student Constable and $80 to re-license a returning Student Constable,” she said.
This year, 50 StuCons were newly licensed compared to 30 returning StuCons.
Goad said the way safety services, StuCons and Walkhome, develop their budget is different from other AMS services.
“What we do is budget for operational expenses compared to last year’s expenses,” she said. “We don’t factor in revenue, which is the best way to be fiscally responsible since we’re funded through student fees.”
Goad added that when creating the budget this summer, it became clear that StuCons would once again close the year with a deficit.
More students than expected though paid into the service, Goad said.
“We budgeted for 14,400 students, but it ended up being 15,000 students … more students came to Queen’s,” she said.
Goad added that this change in numbers along with cost-saving measures like reducing hours through stagger-start shifts — when some StuCons start at 8 p.m. and others join in at 10 p.m. — helped to reduce the service’s deficit from $25,000.
“That was great news, but there was still a deficit of $15,000.”
Goad said the increased StuCon fee of $10 isn’t a large jump when it’s compared to the other AMS safety service.
“To put it into perspective, the Walkhome student fee is over $18.”
Separate from the increase in the StuCon student fee, Goad said the AMS is planning to introduce an element of competition in the safety services budget with regards to the $20,000 safety services grant given to the AMS from Student Affairs.
“The head managers of Walkhome and the Student Constables will come to Corporate Caucus with a presentation on what they want to spend money on that year,” she said. “Somehow the two services will end up splitting the grant from Student Affairs.”
Goad said StuCons provide an invaluable service for Queen’s.
“Student constables represent the AMS mandate of peers supervising and taking care of their peers. We believe no one is more capable of taking care of students than other students,” she said. “These individuals and this service is always there for us when we need them most.”
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