Arboretum Student Engagement Fee Referendum

The Arboretum is for Everyone!

Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students at U of G have passed the Arboretum Student Engagement Fee Referendum.

Students began working with the Arboretum in fall 2021 to increase student awareness of The Arboretum and to propose a modest $2.50 student fee to support student engagement activities. Many student clubs, departments, majors, and individuals are involved - across every College in the university. Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots U of G chapter is the official CSA club sponsor.

Thank you!
In May 2023 U of G graduate students voted Yes for the Arboretum referendum. In October 2023 U of G undergraduate students voted Yes for the Arboretum referendum.


What is the fee?

The Arboretum and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots U of G Chapter with the support of many students, clubs and organizations have petitioned for a “joint fee referendum” for a modest proposed undergraduate student fee ($2.50 per semester for full time students / .50 per .5 credit for part time students) to support student engagement in The Arboretum.

The graduate student fee is $2.50 per semester for full time graduate students and $1.50 per semester for part time graduate students. GSA funds will be used specifically with graduate student needs in mind.

When will the fee go into effect?

The graduate student fee began in Fall 2023 and activities specifically for graduate students have begun. The undergraduate student fee will go into effect in Fall 2024.

How does it help me as a student?

The fee will increase activities specifically for students to access the Arboretum. The Arboretum is a core part of GryphLife for students -- learning, running, mental health, plant identification, creative inspiration, historical inquiry, wildlife, nature experience, research, connecting to indigenous knowledges, conserving rare and endangered species, walking and connecting with friends. The list goes on!

What will the fee cover?

The fee will support an employee at The Arboretum dedicated to student engagement. An Arboretum Student Engagement Committee – made up of equal numbers of students and staff – will be created to advise on student engagement and funds use.

What is The Arboretum?

The Arboretum is 400 acres of nature and learning space right on the East edge of campus. It is free for students to access. Here are some things students say about it:

  • “I go to The Arboretum for a walk with a friend when I get stressed out.”
  • “I love the boardwalk through the woods.”
  • “I learned to identify different trees in the World of Trees.”
  • “The birds in The Arboretum and wildlife gardens are beautiful.”
  • “Drawing nature is one of my favourite things to do.”
  • “I love the biodiversity there and want to ensure the greenspace is there for students in the future.”
  • "It's why I chose to attend the University of Guelph."

Was there already an undergraduate student fee for The Arboretum?

No. This is a new fee. There has not previously been any student fee to support the Arboretum.

What is a joint fee?

A joint fee is a fee approved by students to improve student experience and held by a university department, with an advisory group including equal numbers of students and staff.

What happend last year to the undergraduate (CSA) referendum?

The process to propose an undergraduate fee referendum included the following: 

  • Round 1: Fall 2022 signature collection for submission to the University's Compulsory Fees Committee. (Completed and approved November 2022). 
  • Round 2: January/Feb 2023 Under CSA rules – collecting signatures from 10% of the currently enrolled students in the same semester as the vote would happen. (Completed February 6th and Ratified by the CSA Board February 15th). 
  • Round 3: March 6-15, 2023 -- Full student body vote during CSA elections, online ballot (20% quorum and 50% majority of votes required). Quorum was met in electronic ballot and overwhelming percentage of student voters supported the Arboretum referendum. However, the electronic ballot was compromised which meant the election could not be validated. The CSA board imlemented an in-person, paper ballot contingency election. 
  • Round 4: In-Person, Paper Ballot Contingency Plan March 27th to April 5th - did not meet 20% quorum. CSA board did not choose to ratify the referendum without quorum. The Arboretum Referendum Yes Team is invited to revisit next year.
  • Round 5: Summer 2023 CSA approved the Arboretum Referendum to run in the Fall 2023 Election under new electoral policies. Campaigning began September 18th and voting began October 16th with a secure ballot sent to undergraduates via email link. 
  • Round 6: CSA Fall 2023 By-Election.  5644 votes cast. 4615 Yes Votes. The referendum passed, with overwhelming 81% in favour!  The fee will go into effect in Fall 2024.

Referendum Text


The Arboretum and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots: University of Guelph Chapter are proposing a joint fee to be paid by undergraduate students to increase capacity and student experience in the Arboretum. The internationally-accredited Arboretum, 400 acres of green space located on campus, focuses on habitat restoration, educating youth about nature, and conserving Canada's rare and endangered woody plant species. The Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots: University of Guelph Chapter club is a recognized post-secondary chapter that aims to create engaged community leaders who understand sustainability issues and their impact on people, animals, and the environment.

The Arboretum does not currently collect any undergraduate student fees. This is a new fee. The fee amount proposed is $2.50 per semester from full-time undergraduate students and $0.50 per 0.5 credit per semester from part-time undergraduate students.

The fee will fund a new Arboretum staff member to provide year-round, accessible, student-centred programming and services differentiated for undergraduate needs, and will increase inclusive access and offerings in various formats for UofG students in the Arboretum, as well as direct engagement with UofG students to access, experience, learn from, and participate in the Arboretum.

A separate referendum was approved by the Graduate Student Association (GSA).

Referendum Question:

The University of Guelph Arboretum and Roots & Shoots: Guelph Chapter currently do not collect undergraduate fees.

Do you support the collection of a student fee of $2.50 per semester from full-time undergraduate students, and $0.50 per 0.5 credit per semester from part-time undergraduate students, to expand student experience in the Arboretum and hire an employee to provide additional programming and services for students?

This fee will be collected each semester (Winter/Fall/Summer), beginning Fall 2024, and continue indefinitely, subject to increase annually per the Statistics Canada consumer price index average for Ontario. Students may not opt out of this fee.