Students can expect to dish out an extra $20 in UNBSU fees next year.
The UNBSU council voted for a fee increase from $47.50 to $57.50 per semester, totalling $20 for the whole year.
The money from the raise will go towards funding for student services and increasing the wages of part-time staff within the union. It will also go towards working to erase the union’s $1,700 deficit and balancing the UNBSU’s budget.
“We spent a lot of the summer and this past semester looking at various places in our budget where we’re consistently having less than we really should,” said Greg Bailey, president of the UNBSU.
“There’s a lot of services that we have that are definitely underperforming because every year, rather than keep up with costs, people decide to pass it on to the next group. At the end of the day, basically our budget as it stands is kind of what we’ve been left over the last four years.”
The possibility of an increase to the fee was initially brought up in council in November. On Sunday, the motion for the increase was put forward for debate.
The increase received mixed opinions although many councillors were in favour of it.
“I absolutely think that this is necessary and that it’s a really good idea to make sure that we keep up with inflation,” said councillor Edward Choi.
Other councillors voiced concerns about the vote happening without the input of their constituents.
“If [the students] think that we should, they should be able to tell us. We can’t say ‘I think we deserve a fee raise so give us one.’ I don’t feel comfortable with it at all,” Kelsey Morrissey said.
In the end, the vote was nearly unanimous with a 24 to 1 vote in favour of the fee increase.
“We want to be the exec that said ‘no’ a lot this year so that execs can say ‘yes’ a lot in future years,” said Lee Thomas, vice-president internal of the UNBSU.
“We had to turn down certain things [this year] because we didn’t have the funding for it; but we want to make sure that Student Unions in the future are going to be able to do everything they can to help students.”
Thomas used the #MyDefinition poster campaign, a new campus movement focusing on mental health, as an example of the Student Union’s current financial situation.
“We were scrimping and saving to be able to find the funding in order to run that campaign,” said Thomas.
“Part of what being a Student Union is about is doing new things. If you’re always constricted by these really strict financial boundaries, you’re never going to be able to do anything really interesting that’s going to benefit students.”
Students, too, have mixed reactions. Some, like Luke Bettle, welcomed the increase.
“I’m fine with it, it’s not that much of an increase and it the reasons they gave for it seem reasonable,” he said.
Others were disappointed that they were not consulted.
“I think that we should have been consulted before the fee raise was official,” said Kali O’Dell. “I feel like in the past they’ve given us the option … It feels like there was little discussion with the general public before it was announced.”
“I don’t know that I necessarily am opposed to the fee, just kind of sour that they didn’t consult with us before doing it.”
The Student Union fee goes towards many services and facilities offered by UNB including elections, student council, various clubs and societies and Safe Ride.
With files from Emma McPhee.