Congratulations to our Board of Governors representative:
- NOONAN, Nicolette
Congratulations to our Senate representative:
- ROSEN, Laura
- DAVIDSON, Cliff
- KNOTT, Melissa
- ABUHUSSEIN, Ahmed
The referendum results at the graduate level are as follows:
- NO — 605
- YES — 139
Original page content
Please VOTE on Feb. 8th and 9th in the Ancillary Fee Referendum and Elections for Senate and the Board of Governors Representatives
When: 8:00am on Feb. 8th to 8:00pm on Feb. 9th.
Where: Online voting! https://voting.adt.its.uwo.ca/default.aspx?electionID=5
Alternate link: Go to http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/senate/elections.html and select Graduate students – Click here to Vote
What: There will be two votes taking place during this time
- A referendum regarding the introduction of a new ancillary fee for all students. “Do you agree to the creation of a student ancillary fee in the amount of $4.89 that supports entrepreneurship at Western University?”
- Graduate student representatives to the University Senate and Board of Governors. Candidate statements are available online: Senate and Board of Governors
Statement from the SOGS Executive and further information
The cost of $4.89 may appear at first glance to be a small fee, but if this referendum passes, a dangerous precedent risks being set suggesting a willingness by Western University’s administration to use students’ money to fund services that do not contribute to the wellness and well-being of the campus community and act as a replacement for funding from other, more appropriate, sources. In light of these serious questions about the proposed fee and service, the SOGS Executive strongly encourages all students to reflect on these questions and vote on February 8th and 9th.
A statement from the SOGS Executive follows, outlining some concerns we have regarding how this referendum has been pursued and defined. A selection of relevant sources are available at the bottom of this page.
Should students foot the bill for entrepreneurship on campus?
On February 8th and 9th, undergrads and graduate students alike will be asked to vote in a referendum to approve a new mandatory ancillary fee of $4.89. Its purpose? To “support entrepreneurship on campus.” With little information circulating about the referendum, and few attempts to engage the student population in discussion, questions about this referendum and the need for entrepreneurship on campus are still lingering. The SOGS Executive is concerned that by asking students to become a source of revenue to replace government funding for a service that is neither essential, nor accessible, to all students, the proposed fee does a disservice to all students in our campus community.
Currently “entrepreneurship on campus” takes the form of Propel (http://propel.uwo.ca), whose mandate is, “to expose youth to the concepts of entrepreneurship, encourage testing of ideas through hands-on experience, and equip with the resources and skills necessary to succeed.” Propel is asking for ancillary fee funding to replace substantial cuts in government grants. Students’ money will fund a permanent staff position, infrastructure and equipment investments, and seed funding for projects.
The director of entrepreneurship at Western, Ian Haase, is quoted as saying that part of the service’s purpose is to identify and invest in “high-potential student entrepreneurs on-campus.” (Western Gazette, “Propel to ask for $4.89 in student fee referendum”). This deliberately restricts the program’s clientele to a particular “elite” group of students who are deemed to possess qualities considered valuable by the Province at this particular historical moment. Though the program will benefit from fees paid by every student, only the small number of students who are interested in entrepreneurship will be able to take advantage. All for some! seems to be part of the entrepreneurial spirit.
In addition, based on the phrasing of the referendum question, if Propel were to disappear, the ancillary fee will still be charged to all students. Forever. The money would instead be funnelled into other entrepreneurship endeavours on campus. In fact, this has already happened once before. Propel replaced a previous entrepreneurial centre, BizInc, which was funded through the USC. Once the Propel fee is in place, it is unclear where oversight for the replacement of entrepreneurial services would fall if Propel becomes unsustainable.
We have three main questions about this fee proposal:
1) Is this something that students should be paying for?
To-date, Propel has been funded through a grant from the Province, and is a joint service with Fanshawe College. Through an access to information request, the Globe and Mail (“Ontario universities struggle to bolster entrepreneurship programs,”) highlighted issues with how this grant funding was doled out, with some reviewers expressing reservations about the programs being proposed. For the Western/Fanshawe proposal, which was ultimately granted $1.45 million, the Globe and Mail reported comments that said, “not even sure that the demand warrants this magnitude of investment but recommend support… This gives the government what it needs in this community, a very big win here.” If fostering entrepreneurship is a “win” for the Province in London, why doesn’t the Province continue to foot the bill? Why are students being used as a collective war chest to replace continually declining provincial funding? Don’t we already pay enough in tuition and other fees, which continue to rise? If the Province further cuts funding to Propel, will the levy on students increase year upon year?
2) Is this a service that will benefit the Western community?
Our existing compulsory ancillary fees fund initiatives and programs that are either universally accessible, like Campus Rec, Student Health Services, and the Student Development Centre, or which support the diversity of our student body through programs like Indigenous Services. By promoting support, wellness and well-being for the campus community, these services are essential for a student population. Does Propel fit that bill?
3) Is the university the best place to learn entrepreneurship?
The Province of Ontario seems to think that developing these entrepreneurship centres on university campuses will begin to close the innovation gap in Canada and provide students with important skills to enter the job market. This assertion has yet to be truly tested and debated, either by the university sector widely, or by the Western community. There should be robust discussion and evaluation on whether and how to best integrate these skills into the university — through the curriculum or otherwise before moving forward. To simply bolt additional fees onto the backs of students is a tactic that itself lacks innovation. The University’s strategic plan states, “Western creates, disseminates and applies knowledge for the benefit of society through excellence in teaching, research and scholarship.” We have yet to discuss where and if entrepreneurship fits into this mission. All that is being raised from this proposal are bigger questions about the purpose of a university education. Why are we being charged what is effectively an entrepreneurship tax to facilitate the dissemination of new skills that the Province wishes to foster?
For more information, see:
Simona Chiose. Ontario universities struggle to bolster entrepreneurship programs. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from
Simona Chiose. Is university the place to learn to be an entrepreneur? The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/is-university-the-place-to-learn-to-be-an-entrepreneur/article21068360/
Katie Lear. Propel to ask for $4.89 in student fee referendum. The Gazette. Retrieved from http://www.westerngazette.ca/news/propel-to-ask-for-in-student-fee-referendum/article_d863c7dc-c090-11e5-9252-a3598e0363e8.html
Kevin Hurren. Referendum on Propel, Western’s business accelerator, to come for 2016 USC elections. Western USC News [blog]. Retrieved from