There are many reasons why the Executive Board of the Trent Part Time Student Association (TPSA) has decided to call a referendum asking Part-Time students if they want to merge with the TCSA.
First, over the past decade a majority of Part-Time student associations in Ontario have merged with their respective Full-Time associations. We also found through our recent survey of Trent Part-Time students that the demographics of our association is now very similar to that of the TCSA.
Unfortunately, the Part-Time enrolment has also been on a consistent decline at Trent. In light of the TPSA survey, various one-on-one discussions with TPSA students, and reviewing the past five years of TPSA reports and enrolment, it was evident that the Executive Board needed to discuss the potential of holding a referendum.
In the end, the TPSA Board came to the decision that is was necessary to hold a referendum that would provide an opportunity for Part-Time students to decide the form of governance they desired. After five years of extensive discussions and negotiations, it is now clearly time to ask the students what they want.
Summary of proposal
After extensive negotiations between both Associations, a proposal was drafted to include:
• Two (2) Part-Time student seats within the TCSA Board of Directors (to ensure Part-Time students will have a voice)
• One (1) Part-Time paid student staff position to be created to represent Part-Time student affairs within the TCSA office.
• An evaluation to assess the satisfaction of Part-Time students regarding the merger, to be conducted by the three part-time positions (above) at one, three, and five year points within the winter semester.
• The opportunity for a Part-Time student to Opt-In to the Transit pass for the same rate of full time students; currently Part-Time students pay an additional $20 fee.
• The option to Opt-In to the Health and Dental plan provided to any student taking 1.5 credits or less. Whereas, any student who is taking two (2) credits and above will automatically be enrolled into the benefit plan and have the option to Opt-Out providing proof of alternative coverage.
• It is an opportunity for Part-Time students to have the same rights and opportunities as Full-Time students.
Current status of the Trent Part-Time Student Association
Currently, Part-Time students are classified as all students registered in 3.0 credits or less, which includes all summer school students (some of which are already TCSA members).
The current membership fee is $6 per credit which is paid into the TPSA. For the past five years, this charge has covered the fee for the TPSA Executive Director ($15,500/yr), who was hired as a consultant over twenty years ago.
The Executive Director was responsible for keeping the website up-to-date, advocated for seats on all the Trent University committees, filling seats on the Executive Board, and held ISW information sessions. Unfortunately, with enrollment consistently declining (now at 600 students) the fee for contracting the work of an Executive Director has become unsustainable.
The TPSA currently has five positions on the Executive Board that will need to be fulfilled if the majority of students vote “No” to a TCSA merger in the upcoming referendum.
In addition, the Association would need to investigate the viability of securing a Health and Dental benefits plan for the Part-Time students, discuss a possible TPSA levy increase to provide more opportunity for the TPSA to assist Part-Time students (i.e. events, bursaries, conference support, food assistance program), and execute an overall identification of ways in which the Association can better serve the students.
Pros and Cons
Here are some initial pros and cons. I highly encourage students to research, find out more information, and form their own opinion in order to make an informed vote come election period this week.
• Ensuring all Part-Time students receive access to Health and Dental Benefits at the same cost as Full-Time students, which is significantly lower than that which could be offered to a smaller population.
• Providing a stronger voice to Part-Time students within the university.
• Providing more continuity between Full-Time and Part-Time Undergraduate Students.
• Providing access to conference funding, food assistance program, club affiliation, and all the events that the TCSA currently offers.
• Creating a paid position reserved for a Part-Time student within the TCSA office.
• The levy fee will increase from $6 per credit to $11.35 per credit (which is $6.35 TCSA Membership Fee, $1.50 for Clubs Levy, $0.31 Food Bank Levy, and $3.19 mandatory CFS Fee).
• The Part-Time students will no longer have an autonomous association to represent their needs; instead they will be part of the larger student body.
All students registered in three (3) credits or less at the Peterborough Campus are classified as Part-Time and are eligible to vote on this referendum.
The TPSA shall consider quorum of this referendum to be 15% of our membership, with a successful vote being fifty percent (50%) plus one (1).
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the referendum and eligibility, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org