A look at what would happen if the Augustana Students’ Association lost its student fee
This term’s Augustana Students’ Association (ASA) election will also feature a referendum to reaffirm the ASA’s Faculty Association Membership Fee (FAMF). The fee is the 65 dollar charge per term that every full-time Augustana faculty student pays out of their tuition to fund the ASA.
The FAMF would be rejected if eitherof two things happen: The majority of students vote against keeping the FAMF or voter turnout is lower than 15 percent, which would make the results of the referendum invalid.
The FAMF makes up 80 percent of the ASA’s budget so the stakes are high for the organization.
If the FAMF is voted against, the ASA could continue to exist as an institution with elected student representatives who carry out do their functions as volunteers, however, it would not be able to offer the amount of services it does currently.
As ASA Vice President of Finance Danisha Suchak explained, “the organization would still exist, but it would be entirely on a volunteer basis. So yes, all the positions would exist but everything extra that the organization does, like the bookstore and services like Wellness week ,would go away because simply we wouldn’t have the funds to be able to do so.”
Events funded by the ASA such as After U, and both First Class and Last Class Bash would be affected by the loss of the Faculty Association Membership Fee because they are funded through alternate means.
The grants, bursaries, and scholarships provided by the ASA would be severely affected by a loss of funding and likely wouldn’t be offered. As Suchak put it, “our entire budget is based on the Faculty Association Membership fee and the Campus Association Transfer Fee payment that we receive.”
The ASA’s advocacy efforts would also be hindered, as ASA Vice President Academic Hope McDonald explained. “Our day to day operations, programming events and any type of advocacy that we do would not be removed but severely hindered because we use a lot of that funding for our day-to-day operations.”
The ASA could finance itself for a short time if the FAMF is voted down by students in the referendum. Suchak noted that, “we have an investment fund that we get every year and that is only, I believe, 5.9% of whatever we get every year, so that would maybe sustain us for a year maximum.”
If the Faculty Association Membership Fee is rejected by students, the ASA will not receive any supplementary funding from the SU aside from the Campus Association Transfer Payment.
However, the result of the referendum would not be permanent. The ASA would be able to hold a new referendum in March of 2018.
According to the Students’ Union, if the ASA disbanded due to a loss of funding it would take a similar approach to the approach taken when the Lister Hall Students’ Association was suspended by the University of Alberta Administration for two years as a disciplinary action.
In the case of Lister, the SU provided support, advocacy and representation to Lister students in dealing with the administration and other stakeholders until a new association could be formed.