Proposed budget met with student critisism

BudgetConsultationbyChrisOnly a few students managed to leave their pre-exam workload behind to attend a presentation of the draft budget, given by several members of the Mount Allison administration.

Although there was a small turnout to the student presentation, administrators faced concerns over the implementation of lab and technology fees, the reason behind the deficit, and whether or not to expect any improved services.

There is a new technology fee of fifty dollars, which the university claims will create a revenue of $118,550, while the addition of a lab fee of twenty-five dollars will bring in an additional $112,500. These fees will go into general revenue.

With these new fees, as well as the three per cent tuition increase, off-campus students will pay approximately $400 more, and on-campus students, who will also be facing residence and meal plan increases, will have to pay anywhere from an additional $800 to $900.

“The new budget seems to penalize students and I’m wondering at the fairness in that,” said Mariah Martin Shein, who studies cognitive and computer sciences. “They mentioned that scholarships are staying the same, and it seems a bit unfair to put the responsibility on students to fund things.”

While most students seemed to be looking for improved services, budget manager Chris Milner stressed that the new costs would go toward balancing out the university’s deficit and maintaining what services the university currently has, rather than improve upon them.

The tuition increase stays within the cap imposed by the government, which stands at three per cent for the next three years.

However, the ancillary fees Mt. A looks to implement don’t factor into the cap.

The government won’t enforce the cap itself, but in annual funding letters, it will ask universities to respect the limit.

Science senator John Fraser said that although Mt. A offers benefits such as small class sizes, its tuition comparison is questionable.

“I think it’s a little unmeasured of Mt. A to take the country average,” said Fraser. “I think Mt. A should really be localizing their tuition status on the Maritimes, especially New Brunswick.”

Other students said that the changes were warranted. MASU councillor Rayan Bouhlel said that if the increased tuition ensures the improvement of services, they are justified.

“I do see a justifiable need for the increase in the fees in order not only to maintain the services we are offered, but also explore expansion and potential addition of new services,” he said.

The budget will be sent to the Board of Regents for final approval in May.

Fraser said many students already feel estranged this year as a result of the strike and the tuition rebate debate, creating a vastly different community than in previous years.

“It’s a tough place for students, because the administration is screwing us over with the tuition rebate, and most students have so much work to do that no one even cares. What would it even take for students to evoke action? That’s a different question that I really can’t answer.”

While the student budget meeting was a first attempt at quelling student anger, the administration recognizes that they still have a ways to go before they win over students.

“We knew that it wasn’t going to be a popular decision,” Milner told the audience at the meeting. “It’s like telling someone who lost a leg to be happy that they didn’t lose both. But we did so in the way we thought would less impact students.”

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