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SOGS questions fees
By Sabrina Carinci
Angry representatives of the Society of Graduate Students walked out of a student services committee meeting Monday, after the loss of a vote to reduce graduate ancillary fees.
Kelly Barrowcliffe, president of SOGS and a voting member of the committee, said the incident was based on the failed proposal SOGS made to decrease the $72.35 ancillary fee graduate students contribute to intercollegiate athletics.
Barrowcliffe said the fee, which is the same for both graduate and undergraduate students, is unjustifiable since there are few graduate students who participate in athletics' activities. "The SSC has a guiding principle of universality. We're against it it's fundamentally flawed," she said.
Although Barrowcliffe admitted there are some benefits to paying the fee, she said it is still too high for the amount of grad students who actually benefit from the cost.
Darwin Semotiuk, chair of intercollegiate athletics, said of 2,518 graduate students at Western there are only 29 who are involved in athletics. Involvement in the program can range between being a student athlete to a coach. Semotiuk added the principle of universality is problematic to all students. "[But] having different fees would be difficult to manage," he said.
Ian Armour, president of the University Students' Council and chair of the student services committee, agreed with Semotiuk and said services are not funded on a pay-per-use basis because it would cause an instability in budgeting.
The universality of ancillary fees ensures student services, such as Foot Patrol and the Student Development Centre, are able to function efficiently, Armour said. "SOGS wanted to reduce the fee to $10 that's a big deal."
Jim Walden, general manager of the USC and resource person on the committee, said the SOGS proposal was not the first of its kind and if implemented, it would cause a number of problems with all other students stating they should not have to pay various fees. "It would be opening up a whole can of worms," he said.
Alan Weedon, the dean of graduate studies, said he wrote a letter of support to Barrowcliffe which reinforced his belief ancillary fees for graduate students are simply too high. "Ancillary fees for Western's graduate students are higher than most other universities," Weedon said.
He added ancillary fees are approximately $650 compared to University of Guelph graduate students, who pay $200 in fees.
Armour explained the committee was put in place to review ancillary fees on an annual basis and make recommendations to the Board of Governors through the Campus and Community Affairs Committee. "The SSC is the most important committee that I sit on," he said. "I hope we can overcome our differences because we only have a couple of weeks to put out our report."