EngSoc to hold vote on raising fee

$10 increase and potential jacket tax would help cover costs to reopen Clark

EngSoc President Charlie Scott listens to a presentation at an EngSoc Council focus meeting Tuesday night.
EngSoc President Charlie Scott listens to a presentation at an EngSoc Council focus meeting Tuesday night.

Engineering students may have to pay up if they ever want another pint at Clark Hall Pub. The Engineering Society voted at a council focus meeting Tuesday night that raising the student fee from $42.26 to $53 is the best way to cover costs associated with reopening Clark Hall Pub.

The pub closed in June 2007 after the AMS, which holds Clark’s insurance, and Residence and Hospitality Services Director Bruce Griffiths, the University’s liquor-licence holder, raised concerns of liability and financial mismanagement.

If passed, the fee would come into effect for the 2008-09 school year. According to the EngSoc constitution, decisions to increase student fees can only be made through a referendum and need a majority vote of 50 per cent plus one.

At EngSoc Council last night, Vice-President (Society Affairs) and president-elect Jordan Black brought forward a motion to bring the increased student fee proposal to a referendum set to take place March 12 and 13. The motion passed with two opposed.

The motion stipulated a committee of EngSoc members be formed in the next week to develop a campaign to ensure undergraduate engineering students are aware of the referendum and their ability to vote.

Black budgeted $899.18 plus 10 per cent contingency for the referendum and marketing campaign. This amount includes ads in campus newspapers, posters, costs associated with printing the ballots and hiring polling station operators.

EngSoc would hire two Integrated Constables (iCons), security staff who patrol the Integrated Learning Centre (ILC), at a rate of $8.32 per hour for five hours each day of the vote to handle the polling station, which would likely be located in the ILC.

Vice-President (Operations) Rob Macnamara suggested adding a jacket tax to bring in more money. Right now, jackets cost $330 each, including taxes. The idea is that GST and PST—totalling 13 per cent—would be charged on top of the jacket price. The council hasn’t voted yet.

EngSoc made $7,569.56 on jacket sales this year.

Macnamara said adding the tax would not only bring in much-needed dollars for EngSoc but would allow the society to subsidize more jackets for students who can’t afford them.

Former Clark Hall Pub entertainment manager Matt Maclellan disagrees with the proposed price increase.

“You have 70 per cent of engineering students buying a jacket because they feel they need to,” he said. “It’s a hidden student fee. In my eyes, it’s dishonest.”

Macnamara released a report in December with suggestions for Clark’s future.

The recommendations included hiring two permanent, part-time staff members at a total cost of $60,000 per year.

The general manager position at Clark Hall Pub would cost EngSoc a total of $20,000 a year plus an estimated $10,000 per year in benefits under Queen’s salary plan, Macnamara said.

In response to past financial discrepancies at Clark, Macnamara proposed hiring a bookkeeper at a yearly salary of $30,000. This bookkeeper would be outsourced—where to is yet undecided—and would keep track of the pub’s daily finances, write up production reports and set up financial systems for the pub.

Macnamara said these positions wouldn’t be just for Clark, but to bring financial accountability to the whole society. Once the society develops a standard ledger, the bookkeeper would be able to monitor the finances of all the services.

“These problems need to be rectified on a holistic scale. … Permanent staff cannot just be a part of Clark because that is using student fees for a service that is only for those who are over 19.”

Council passed the motion, with one abstention, to hire a general manager and a bookkeeper by Sept. 1 if financial resources are available to pay for their salaries.

Black also put forward a motion for Council to forgive the approximately $33,000 the Pub owes to EngSoc, saying right now the Pub can’t afford to re-open and this would be a way of relieving its financial burden.

The motion, which passed, also calls for the EngSoc director of finances to “investigate the feasibility of a $20,000 donation” to the pub. Finances Director Thomas Gloge has to report back to Council at their March 6 meeting. Council will decide whether or not to give the money to Clark Hall Pub and whether it will be a loan or a donation.

Macnamara estimated that if reopened in September, the Pub could lose upwards of $13,000 in its initial operating year.

EngSoc currently has a total of $20,000 in stocks and $100,000 in bonds in its name.

Macnamara said he doesn’t know when Clark could make a profit.

“We can’t project that far ahead.”

The idea of raising the salary of the Pub managers from $100 per week to between $200 and $250 a week was also suggested at the meeting. Managers are paid $100 per week for managerial duties and paid like regular staff—$8, the minimum wage—for the hours they work as bar staff.

Black said Zhaodi Culbreath, the Tea Room head manager, is going to submit a proposal to EngSoc’s Board of Directors after investigating the financial feasibility of the pay increase.

Former Clark Hall Pub business manager Erin Hall spoke against the proposed pay increase, explaining that she took the position for more than just the money.

“I was doing a great job for the good of the Engineering Society and the students in providing something that everyone loves,” she said. “Three years ago managers worked for $50 a week.” Black said pay increases are necessary in order for EngSoc job positions to stay competitive.

“We can’t expect that year after year people will work for less than they would with the AMS.” AMS managers are paid salaries. For 2007-08 the TAPS head manager will make $17,558, the 12-month assistant managers will make $15,283 and the 8-month assistant managers will make $9,950. They’re mandated to work 30 hours per week.

—With files from Gloria Er-Chua

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.