The University Students' Council's November meeting had councillors debate more than a dozen motions, most notably determining referendum options for Radio Western/CHRW funding.
Last year, council decided to put Radio Western’s student fee to a referendum, meaning students will vote this February on how much they think the radio station's future student fee should be. Last night's council set out to determine the referendum question that will be included on this year's 2018 USC elections ballot. A motion initially proposed a ballot containing three options: Radio Western's status quo fee of $12.47, a decrease to $10.50 over three years or a decrease to $3 over three years.
Andrew Barton, Radio Western station manager, started the discussion with a presentation about Radio Western, explaining its fundraising efforts and value to the Western University community.
“We’re seeing approximately 400 volunteers involved, with 61 per cent of them being undergrads,” said Barton. “We feel as though we have a lot of opportunity to bring fundraising revenue to the sports department.”
Barton said Radio Western is currently exploring new revenue streams in fundraising and advertisement, best preparing them for the $10.50 reduction over three years.
Approximately 15 students showed up to support the campus media outlet at the meeting. Prior to the meeting, president of the Faculty of Music Students' Council, Kyle Tang, created a Facebook event asking students to support the elimination of the $3 option. The event page drew 122 members who clicked attending and 73 people who clicked interested.
“I am fighting for students like me to have the chance to record original music either with bands or by themselves and to do spoken word things on the air,” said Julia Sebastien, a third-year, double major SASAH and FIMS student.
However, social science counsellor Keaton Olsen argued the amount of funding Radio Western currently receives is 308 per cent more than what they would receive if the fee students agreed to in 1979 was adjusted for inflation. Olsen also mentioned that including the $3 option on the ballot gives students more of a real choice.
“I believe that students can make an informed decision after both sides have campaigned,” said Adam Khimji, social science councillor, in support of keeping the third $3 ballot option.
However, many councillors, including president Tobi Solebo, spoke out against the $3 option, citing that it was too low of a figure and that it would cripple the radio station's current operations.
President Solebo speaks against motion, "I think the $3 over 3 years is a very aggressive referendum ... I don't believe that it is as sustainable as it seems to be."— GazetteNews (@NewsAtGazette) November 30, 2017
Science councillor Grace Zhu argued that the benefits of Radio Western extend beyond radio broadcasting, which was what it started as, and includes digital broadcasting, student training and community partnerships.
Several amendments were discussed throughout the debate period. Social science president Mitchell Pratt proposed an amendment to change the decrease to $3 over three years option to $5 over five years. After a series of amendments and difficulties confirming the vote numbers, the $5 option and an amendment to add a fourth option of $7.47 passed.
Councillor Juhasz suggests changing the $3 fee to a $7.47 fee, citing the large disparity between the first two options of the amendment and the third #westernusc— GazetteNews (@NewsAtGazette) November 30, 2017
Therefore, the spring Radio Western referendum will have four options for students to choose between: the fee will either be $12.47 at status quo or a reduction to $10.50, $7.47 or $5 over five years.