University Students’ Council votes to support increased levy on student fees

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The World University Services of Canada Local Committee is already planning for the 2018-19 year as they work to increase available funding for new student refugees and their annual living costs.

On Sept. 21, representatives from WUSC attended the weekly University Students’ Council meeting to ask for the council’s support as they move to increase the levy collected from student fees, which has not been increased since 2014, to an extra dollar per term.

Luka Yol, Brittney Senger and Eliza Acode host a WUSC Welcome Social on Sept. 25 at Louis’ Pub.

In the council meeting, Eliza Acode, a third-year crop science student and co-chair of WUSC, explained that the Student Refugee Program’s operating margin is very slim. She believes that the increased levy will provide security to the program.

“The levy increase will definitely ensure adequate and better living [conditions] for the future SRP students. Additionally, the levy increase will justify the sustainability of the SRP that has been part of  the University of Saskatchewan for over 35 years now,” Acode said, in an email to the Sheaf.

WUSC is a Canadian non-profit organization that works internationally to provide education and settlement to displaced people in refugee camps. The WUSC LC welcomes three to four new students each year and helps them navigate their new lives at the U of S.

Currently, the SRP program collects $4 per term from all undergraduate students. The co-chairs of WUSC are asking the U of S to increase the levy by $1 per term, equalling an extra $2 per year per student. Brittney Senger, a fourth-year political studies student and co-chair of WUSC, explains that the extra funding would go a long way for the SRP budget.

“The success of our program reflects the university’s ability to accommodate and aide our students, and all new students,” Senger said, in an email to the Sheaf. “For WUSC students, the levy increase means an increase in their monthly living allowance so that they can afford to go out with friends or save money. It will also improve their residence [options].”

The bid for an increase is largely due to wanting to move the refugee students from Seager Wheeler residence to College Quarter, which costs significantly more. Senger and Acode explained to the council that the students’ monthly stipends will increase by $100 if approved.

Senger points out that it has been two years since the last levy increase, but since then, the price of tuition and living costs have inflated.

“Students should know the fee they pay towards WUSC is being used wisely and is making a significant difference to the lives of our students,” Senger said. “The levy is [being] increased to cover the increasing cost of living in Saskatoon.”

In the USC meeting, it was clarified that a motion to increase the levy in ratio with inflation cannot be made due to U of S policies relating to fee and tuition increases.

While the levy has not yet increased for the 2018-19 fee, WUSC’s bid will now go through other committees for approval, such as the U of S Board of Governors. If the levy is approved by each subsequent committee, the process will last until January.

Acode explains the importance of WUSC to the students who come through the program, and to all those involved in the university community.

“The LC, volunteer students and staff — with the support from U of S Students’ Union, [the] International Student and Study Abroad Centre and other university units — directly change lives of refugee youth,” Acode said. “WUSC positively contributes to local and global calls to the very timely refugee and global issues.”

Nykole King / News Editor

Photo: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor