By Toby White
Mark Counsell is a man on a mission.
The Students’ Union Operations and Finance Commissioner wants to review the levies students contribute to through their SU fees. To begin, he is proposing a referendum to remove the $2 per semester levy students pay to Career Services. Counsell feels Career Services should be paid for by the employers who benefit most from job matching.
"I object in principle to students subsidizing the hiring process for employers," said Counsell. "We’re subsidizing the likes of the Shell Oil Company, who really don’t need it."
The student levy currently supplies Career Services with $75,000, or 10 per cent of their budget. Under the leadership of new director Craig Fortner, Career Services recently began charging employers a $40 fee for posting job positions. Counsell feels fees such as this should be used to fund Career Services instead of the student levy.
"It is employers who profit greatest from the employment of students," stated Counsell. "Employers should be expected to pay for this service."
Fortner pointed out the revenue from the employer fee is already being put to use.
"That revenue is being used for increased services like the new facility we will be moving into," he explained. "We have to pay money to the Students’ Union to be there."
Counsell would like to see the fee charged to employers raised. Fortner feels the idea is worth looking into, but wants to wait to see how the current fee will affect the budget before raising it. He’s also worried about driving employers away with large fees.
"The majority of our companies are small to medium-sized," said Fortner. "If we charge higher fees we could lose job opportunities for students."
Counsell pointed out that the University of Alberta Career Services charges employers $90 for postings. Fortner, however, expressed caution at trying to match the U of A’s fees.
"Employers want to keep costs down," he said. "If it’s cheaper for them to recruit here than at U of A, we’re at an advantage. We don’t want to risk that."
Students at U of A do not pay a levy but must pay user fees for all services. Both Counsell and Fortner agreed that they do not want students to have to pay to use Career Services.
"Students here pay one small amount to get access to a whole range of services compared to the U of A model where students pay fees for everything," said Fortner.
Counsell plans to bring a resolution for a referendum to the Students’ Legislative Council on Tues., Oct. 23. Fortner is open to discussing the merit of removing the levy, but pointed out that even with revenue from additional sources, the $75,000 students contribute through the levy still contributes to services.
"I would hope that whatever we do, it’s focused on expanding services to students," said Fortner. "And not taking them away."