Volume 92, Issue 90

Thursday, March 18, 1999


Student fee increases passed

USC communications officer calls it quits

Fee may be cut for legal services

London police close in on T.J. Baxter's bomber

Charges laid in latest London stabbing

Parental care receives financial boost


Caught on campus

Fee may be cut for legal services

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

Western's student fees could decrease by $3.50 next year if the University Students' Council decides it will not pick up the tab for the faculty of law's community legal services.

In the wake of budget planning and close scrutinization of student and ancillary fees, it was brought to the attention of Dave Small, USC VP-finance, that there was not a lot of accountability as to exactly how community legal services was using the $3.50 per student.

Although the USC budget was approved by council last night, Small said community legal services was something which would have to go under closer review before any final decisions would be made as to whether or not the USC would cut or eliminate the fee.

"[The USC] doesn't know whether community legal services needs the money or not. They probably do, but there has been very little reporting, if any, to the USC," Small said. "It was hard to either justify or criticize the fee because we don't have enough information."

Small said he requested a budget breakdown from Michael Cormier, director of community legal services, in February. Over a month later the USC had still not received the information, he said.

"We want to see what students are getting for their money and total usage of the service," Small said.

Cormier attributed the fact he had not supplied Small with the requested data to a lack of communication and problems contacting the USC. "It's not a problem for them to know what we do."

Community legal services helps over 1,000 students a year as well as another 1,000 marginalized people from the London community with free legal advice, Cormier added.

He said in addition to funding from student fees, the faculty of law and Ontario Legal Aid help finance the legal services. "The USC contributes approximately $67,000 per year of [a total] $350,000," he said.

Cormier said although exposure for the services has been perceived as limited, most students do not know about them until they have legal problems.

"I think that would be doing a massive disservice to students and the London community," Michael Rubinoff, president of the student legal society, said of the possible cuts to the service.

Rubinoff said there are other areas in which student fees should be cut.

"It's by far one of the most useful services a student pays for at this university," Rubinoff said. "For $3.50 they're getting free legal advice on any issue."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999