Arboretum Student Engagement Fee Referendum
Update May 2023
Grad Students - Have your say June 1!
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) board has endorsed the Arboretum Student Engagement Fee referendum, under GSA policies and procedures and the following timeline:
- May 17-31: Campaigning period
- June 1-2: Voting -- Check your UofG email from GSA at 9AM on June 1 to Vote Yes!
In the Winter 2023 election, the Arb fee referendum did not meet quorum of 20% in the in-person paper ballot contingency election. We received an overwhelming 75% of the student voter support, and have been invited to meet with the incoming CSA President in May to consider the question again in the next school year. Stay tuned!
What is the proposed 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 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 proposed graduate student fee is $2.50 per semester for full time graduate students and $1.50 per semester for part time graduate students.
Can grad students participate?
Yes, the GSA is considering the referendum separately in May with a vote June 1 - 2. GSA funds would be used to increase activities specifically with graduate student needs in mind.
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 a staff support 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 activities 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."
Is there already a student fee for 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.
Graduate Referendum Preamble and Question:
The Arboretum does not currently collect any student fees. This is a new fee. The fee amount proposed is $2.50 per semester from full-time Graduate students and $1.50 per semester from part-time Graduate students.
The fee will support a new Arboretum staff member to provide year-round, accessible, Graduate student-centred programming and services, advised by an Arboretum Student Engagement Fee committee including students and staff. The fee will increase inclusive access and offerings in various formats for UofG graduate students in The Arboretum, as well as direct engagement with UofG students to access, experience, learn from, and participate in the Arboretum.
If passed, the GSA funds will be used to provide programming differentiated to Graduate student needs. In addition to learning about the environment, connecting to nature and each other, and access for physical and mental well-being, Graduate student services will likely include programming for families, international students, and research connections across a range of disciplines. Program initiatives would be for Graduate students from all research fields and disciplines because the Arboretum is for everyone.
There are separate referendums by the Central Student Association (CSA) and by the Graduate Student Association (GSA).
The University of Guelph Arboretum and Roots & Shoots: Guelph Chapter currently do not collect fees.
Do you support the collection of a student fee of $2.50 per semester from full-time Graduate students and $1.50 per semester from part-time Graduate students, to expand student experience in the Arboretum and hire an employee to provide additional programming and services for Graduate students?
This fee will be collected each semester (Winter/Fall/Summer), beginning Fall 2023, 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.
What was the process for undergraduate (CSA) referendum?
The process to propose an undergraduate fee referendum included:
- 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: Stay tuned! Meeting with new CSA president in spring regarding next steps.