Failed fees fail arts groups

Last week, three opt-outable fees were voted down in the AMS Fall Referendum when they went up for renewal.

Diatribe, the Empress and the Union Gallery each had their fees voted down by less than a 15 per cent margin.

It’s discouraging that, in spite of the federal government’s proposed arts funding cuts and apparent student outcry against them, the only fees that failed to pass were for arts groups on campus.

For groups that don’t receive AMS funding, the opt-outable program is an important source of funding for their viability. The opt-outable fee is a fair system for students because they have the opportunity to choose which causes to support.

It’s disappointing that students who voted against the fees, when they would have had the opportunity not to pay them, have now eliminated the possibility for other students who wanted to pay the fees to do so.

The Queen’s community should be encouraging media outlets such as Diatribe and the Empress to be competitive alternatives to more established news sources.

In a community of diverse interests, it’s important to have a variety of news sources that act as checks and balances for each other and provide differing viewpoints on important issues.

The referendum results may provide a telling sign that these publications need to reconsider how to represent a more diverse student population.

Publications should be held to high standards and prove why they deserve students’ financial support; as long as they operate with integrity and serve the student body, they should be given the opportunity to develop into visible outlets of expression. One important aspect of development, that both publications now lack, is having the resources to do so.

The referendum also asked three non-binding questions related to students’ experience in the Kingston community, the unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party and potential AMS alignment with a federal student lobby group.

The questions were worded vaguely and their purposes were even less clear. The AMS should have explained why the questions were asked and what the responses are going to be used for.

Without this information, students could have interpreted the questions differently and the responses don’t necessarily reflect true student opinion.

These questions should act as starting points for discussion rather than the final verdict on student opinion.

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