We have been working on some research all summer, looking at the various referenda that have happened on our campuses since the 1970s. This came out of a conversation about how good a judge students are of fees that are proposed, and what would happen to student fees if Alberta moved to a referendum-only model of creating new fees or increasing existing ones.
Out of 82 different referenda at our three campuses we see that students approved 62 of them, or 76%. The services that these fees pay for vary but interestingly students seem willing to hear out the case, find out the necessary information and make a decision.
Also of interest was how students handled questions of lowering fees. Five referenda went to students at the University of Calgary and one at the University of Alberta calling for lowering fees and two actually failed – the elimination of the Bears and Pandas Legacy Fund at the University of Alberta and the reduction of a fee for Student Legal Assistance at the University of Calgary.
Ultimately, referenda represent the best and most legitimate means for approving a new fee or increasing an existing one. Take a look at our two documents on the topic and learn more.