Silencing Student Dissent
Across Canada, university student associations–at both the undergraduate and graduate level–provide democratic representation to their members.Â When students register for a term, memberhip fees are automatically collected by the university’s business office, much like an employer automatically collects union dues in a unionized workplace.Â The university’s business office temporarily holds student membership fees “in trust,” and then remits them to each respective student organization.Â
Student associations use the fees to provide services to their members (such as health and dental plans, emergency aid grants and travel grants), as well as to provide representation to their members (e.g.Â in advocating for lowerÂ tuition fees, and in advocating for more student services on campus).
Recently, Carleton University has threatened toÂ notÂ remit the fees it has been holding “in trust” for its undergraduate and graduate student associations respectively.Â The University claims that it is merely trying to ensure more financial transparency, but this is not the whole story.Â To be sure, I believe this issue has serious implications not only for student activism at Carleton, but also for student activism throughout Canada.
I have an opinion piece on this topic in this week’s Charlatan.
(Full disclosure: I’m the Vice-President Finance of Carleton’s graduate student association.)