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University charging GSA more for space

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Over the next three years, the Graduate Students' Association will see a 100 per cent increase in their total rental costs. To help offset the rising occupancy costs, the GSA is asking graduate students to vote on a proposed $10 levy over the next three years in the upcoming GSA election. This levy will help subsidize the rental of all GSA space, including all GSA offices, hallways and the Grad Lounge.

The levy will help pay the $63,000 university occupancy fees for the 2004-05 school year which will cover services such as caretaking, security and utilities. The proposed fee for the upcoming year is a $20,000 increase over this year's fees of $43,000.

"The Grad Lounge is considered a revenue-generating area," said Director of Campus Infrastructure Stephen Dantzer. "We're looking to recover costs associated with revenue-generating areas."

The increase in occupancy costs is due to the dramatic increase in utility costs over the last five years.

The GSA's increase is the beginning of a four-year plan to gradually increase occupancy fees for all revenue-generating areas across campus, including tenant space in MacEwan Student Centre, other campus food services and the Bookstore.

"The gradual four-year plan will hopefully allow those being faced with an increase to accommodate future costs within their business plan," said Dantzer.

The Students' Union has also seen increasing occupancy costs but SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Gavin Preston doesn't agree with charging students a levy for either GSA or SU space.

"It seems as if the university thinks that we're a commercial entity--we don't make a profit," he said. "They're charging us like we're a tenant."

Preston assured the SU will not look into charging undergraduates a levy to cover their operating costs.

"It's the stance of [myself] and the people elected next year that we won't be charging a levy," he said.

The GSA declined to comment on the referendum or rising occupancy costs as they felt they are central issues in the upcoming election.

The GSA election runs Mar. 19-30.

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