ReUnion Street Festival fee passes, after a fight

Starting next year, students will pay a $12.50 mandatory fee to support the Homecoming festival

AMS President Allison Williams spoke in favour of the fee at the AGM.
AMS President Allison Williams spoke in favour of the fee at the AGM.

A mandatory $12.50 ReUnion Street Festival fee and a $24.43 Tricolour Yearbook and Studio Q opt-out fee passed at Tuesday’s AMS Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The AGM — which was held at Grant Hall and attended by over 100 people — is an annual meeting of AMS Assembly at which any undergraduate student is able to vote on proposed motions.

Debate around the ReUnion Street Festival fee began with some Assembly members and members-at-large proposing that it go to referendum instead of being voted on at the AGM. Speaker Chris Casher eventually ruled that any comments that “deny the legitimacy of the AGM” would be deemed irrelevant.

Reiterating comments made in previous assemblies dealing with the fee, the AMS executive said last fall’s ReUnion Street Festival improved town-gown relations and alumni relations. They added that it wouldn’t be possible for another festival to take place without a mandatory fee for undergraduate students because they couldn’t reuse the Advantage Fund this year.

Most studentswho spoke during the AGM supported passing the mandatory fee, including Rector Mike Young, ASUS President Adam Grotsky, Judicial Affairs Director William Simonds and Academic Affairs Commissioner Colin Zarzour.

The motion was voted on via secret ballot and received 133 “yes” votes, 12 “no” votes and two abstentions.

Forrest Donaldson, an ASUS representative to the AMS who spoke against the fee at the AGM, told the Journal that the AMS executive knew they’d have to propose some sort of fee, even if they didn’t have exact figures for the potential student fee at the time of the fall referendum.

“Clearly at that point they knew that they were looking at a fee,” said Donaldson, ArtSci ’15.

“What was to stop them from introducing another plebiscite question that said something along the lines of ‘would you be okay with a $10 or more fee being attached to pay for the ReUnion Festival?’”

He added that it’s within the AMS’s capacity to call a referendum at any point — which, he said, they could have done in January or February.

“I think they’ve been very forceful in the way they present this issue and the urgency they created around this issue, in order to make sure that this project they believe in very much passes,” he said.

“I just really wish we had the chance to consult with students as a whole on this issue, and the best way to do that is through referendum.”

AMS President Allison Williams told the Journal via email that the festival is an opportunity for the Queen’s community to come together.

“We are excited to see this fee pass and cannot wait to see the festival come to life again next year, with an abundance of students and alumni in attendance,” said Williams, ArtSci ’14.

The establishment of the Tricolour Yearbook and Studio Q fee was much less contentious. After Campus Services Director Kanivanan Chinniah and Retail and Design Services Director Dylan Trebels gave a presentation on the fee, Grotsky called for a motion to vote on the motion, which carried.

Casher allowed three brief questions before the opt-out fee was voted on.

The AGM didn’t meet quorum, which would require two per cent of all AMS members to take part.

If a student disagrees with motions passed during the AGM, policy allows for them to start a petition, as long as this occurs within two weeks of the meeting. A special general meeting would follow within a week of receiving the petition and, if the meeting meets quorum, it would proceed and the motions would be readdressed.

The petition would require 326 signatures, representing two per cent of the AMS population.

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