Student fee policy leaves StuCons hanging

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Democracy is usually the best policy, but the AMS shot themselves in the foot when they made referendums the only avenue for passing fees.

This year, the AMS changed policy so that student activity fee increases no longer have the option to be debated and passed through an Annual General Assembly (AGM). They’re instead included on a student body-wide referendum. 

While decisions that affect students should include student feedback, there are exceptions to every rule — and the Student Constables (StuCon) fee increase that failed to pass is one of them. 

It isn’t difficult to understand why students would vote against StuCons getting more money. Apart from it being a mandatory fee that comes out of your pocket, StuCons are the ones who kick you out of the bar at the end of the night.

But the point of the service is to keep other students safe. Moreover, discipline often works far better coming from a peer who may be able to sympathize. 

And StuCons weren’t looking for this fee increase to buy themselves some party hats — they needed the money.

The provincial government requires expensive and mandatory security training. Without this training, StuCons can’t do their job, but this increases the cost for student groups to book StuCons for large events or events where alcohol is served. 

StuCons are already underpaid, because while minimum wage has increased, their salary hasn’t.  

In their report to the AMS, StuCons identified difficulty in hiring and retaining employees due to the low compensation and high demands of the positions. 

StuCons also fulfill part of the AMS’s mandate to provide job opportunities to students. But the current compensation for a StuCon doesn’t make it a very desirable opportunity. 

Despite this legitimate need, StuCons didn’t receive funding, most likely because students don’t realize how beneficial StuCons are to Queen’s student life. 

Without StuCons, we wouldn’t have Queen’s Pub, the Underground or Clark Hall as we know them. We wouldn’t have formals, conferences or the Frosh concert. And the list goes on. 

Without having a security force present, these places or events aren’t allowed, and clubs and societies are very limited in the scope of events they can hold.  

It’s the AMS’s responsibility to do what’s best for students. But evidently, the outcome of this referendum isn’t what’s best for the student body.  

Complicated fees tend to get lost in the white noise of elections. And with the addition of the nullified fall referendum questions, wading through the winter referendum became more onerous than usual. 

In the end, this fee really should have been thoroughly discussed, instead of ending up as a one-line question on a ballot for students uninformed on its importance to vote on. 

An AGM that allows huge and unnecessary student fees isn’t desirable, but there needs to be a way for services that are necessary to receive the funding they need. 

If we don’t have that, we risk damaging the services that are supposed to make student life better.    

Journal Editorial Board

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