Re: Levy Discussion Continues – Meg Labron

Hi again Liam. I apologize for my mistake last week, I stand corrected on the majority of levy fees being refundable. I do want to respond to several of your other claims, and I’d like to clarify that this is not defensive and I’m not taking it personally. I do, however, strongly disagree with you. First of all, I’d like to quote your fellow member of Trent Liberty, Scott Berry, who in his Arthur article last week about why he sees opposition to Aramark as ill-informed, said this: “When you signed your name on the dotted line to attend this institution, you agreed to the terms of the exchange: Trent University elicits your tuition then provides education, residence, and food services. Under no circumstances were you, in any sense of the word, forced into your respective colleges. You had the choice to attend other universities, seek alternate residential arrangements, or refrain from attendance altogether.” Strangely, I do believe that this exact argument could be used against your claim that the payment of levy fees is in some way “coercive” or “forced payment”. You chose to attend Trent, and you made the decision to pay your tuition along with your levy fees.

Now you might tell me, as you pointed out last week, that it isn’t Trent who is taking our money, but rather the TCSA. Fair claim. But this “third party” “organization that you never signed up for” or what you claim is just an “umbrella levy group” is actually our student union – you signed up for it when you decided to come to Trent, a decision, I assume, which you freely and willingly made. And these “private groups and organizations with various agendas” that you refer to, whom the TCSA gives this money? They aren’t private, Liam, and you know that. Levy groups are as public as public can be – public membership and public finances. Anyone can join them and anyone can see where and how they spend their money.

The claim that these groups would exist “supported by the people who value them, like you and me” forgets one very important fact – not everyone has the money. It’s really great that you and your friends have been able to pay out of your pockets to start your own student group. Really, it is. But something that the “free market” mentality tends to ignore is the fact that not everyone stands on equal footing. So if there are not enough people who are willing or able to pay for Walkhome, does that mean that the service is useless, that students should have to walk home alone at night just because they can’t afford an escort, risking assault (which for many of us is a very real risk)? Or that the Emergency Food Cupboard, which feeds over 100 hungry students and community members per week should cease to exist? Or that students with young children who can’t afford daycare should just have to forget about post-secondary education? Maybe the refugee student whose education is funded through WUSC each year ought to pay it for themselves? Not everyone has that kind of privilege Liam.

As for the “tyranny of the 51% vote,” I’d really love to hear your opinion on the  questionable legitimacy of our current federal government… hey, maybe we’ll finally find something we agree on!

Meg Labron

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