Re: I Want My Money Back – Brea Hutchinson, John West-Carvalho

We are sorry to hear that levy fees are troubling you and that you feel ripped off. Further, it is extremely troubling to hear of such an abuse of student monies at York – that is wrong. However, your piece misses some of the most amazing work that these levies accomplish.

Here is a quick and incomplete list of some of the amazing things these levies do:

– two food banks, feeding both hungry students and those less fortunate in the Peterborough community,

– a free market to exchange goods,

– created a pan-campus and Peterborough anti-rape campaign,

– a transit system used by some 6000 people daily,

– a health benefits (which students can remove themselves from) program used by some 3000 students,

– employ more than 100 students offering invaluable job experience (e.g. Arthur staff writer), and

– strive to achieve political and charitable goals; from raising money for Haiti after their last earthquake, talking about mental health on campus, or helping those who cannot afford the full cost of childcare.

This work could not be done if we spent 25% or 50% of our time raising money to accomplish this work (a very real likelihood). We would become fundraisers not change makers. Levy fees, refundable or not, allow us to not worry about raising money, but instead to accomplish great things in our community. Further, the books of these organisations are public. Any member can get access to these budgets (what is spent, how much we do fundraise and more information) to find out how we are using these funds.

Levies, clubs and groups may not touch on all areas of student involvement and desire, and they may not appeal to everyone. However their existence is not based on one student’s want or dislike, they are based upon a majority vote.

The cost of a university education is immense, and the debt load is grotesque. However, one thing that troubles me is the idea that levies are the problem. These fees, like electoral democracy or hate it, are voted by students. Any full-time student can start a petition to challenge if these fees should exist. The ultimate decision-makers are students. These fees only increase at the rate of inflation.

Yet, year-after-year our tuition fees rise by 5% (twice the rate of inflation) or some $300, or an extra $1,300 (for domestic students, international students experience an increase of $800 a year) over your four-year degree – no administrator will ask you if you like it or not, or ask you to vote on it, you will simple pay it. It is the cost, right or wrong, to attend this university.

Brea Hutchinson & John West-Carvalho

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