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Levy Referendum

Posted by The Socs Box on Tue, 20-04-2021

For all the information on the impact of the changes to the levy which you will be asked to vote on Thursday 22nd, 

The USCG represents the interest of Societies and comprises 9 students who have put together information about the changes proposed in the Levy so you have all the information to help you make an informed decision.

USCG/Societies Statement

"The elected student representatives to the USCG welcome a reduced student levy. However, while the increase in society funding may seem like a positive, the proposed cut to the Áras na Mac Léinn fund is worrying. The building is the home of societies/students and this will force all student services that are located there to seek additional external funding to ensure the availability and maintenance of key resources/spaces for societies & students.

 

The alternative source for this funding is likely to be more corporate events held in Áras na Mac Léinn which actively takes power from the student’s hands. This will move the financial burden back onto students, not remove it. The long-term effect on sporting clubs should also be considered. 

 

We implore students to consider the impacts these proposed changes will have on all aspects of student life prior to voting.”


Please go to this link for all the information.


USCG Information Sessions Presentation


What is the Aras na Mac Leinn fund?


On the face of it, the NUIGSU proposal suggests an increase in funding direct from the levy to Socs of around €93,000. 

However, the proposal dramatically cuts funding for Áras na Mac Léinn – from €281,000 to €49,000.
That is a cut of 83% - in real money terms that is more than €230,000.

But the NUIGSU plan is to make more money by leasing parts of that building. It is our building after all, isn’t it?
Yes. NUI Galway is unique in providing a building of this nature solely for you, the students.
And yes, NUIGSU says the funding shortfall can be made up by increasing commercial activity in Áras na Mac Léinn – leasing the rooms and facilities you and your fellow students book and use.

That would inevitably have significant negative impact on the availability of this essential space for students.
Simply put – today the Socs can say “No” to requests for space from outside the student body. Tomorrow, if commercialisation kicks in, they can’t. 
It could be Áras na Mac Léinn in name only. 

See Aras na Mac Leinn report here


What is the Projects fund?


The Student Project Fund is your vehicle to kick-start, fund and develop initiatives, services and supports dedicated to you that otherwise may not see the light of day.
Currently the Student Project Fund has a budget of €821,570, including €500,000 from the University. 
The proposed levy change will cut the budget for the Student Project Fund by 75% - in real money terms that is a cut of almost €240,000.
If the students don’t value this fund then the University is very unlikely to contribute €500,000 to it annually.

What sort of things are funded by the Student Project Fund? 

The pot of money runs dozens of projects, helping to embed them in student services. They all share a common goal - they are there for the greater good and they put you, the student, first.
The Student Project Fund gives your ideas and initiatives important backing and impetus, while teams behind them demonstrate their worth and make a business case to secure more permanent funding.

Examples of the fund include projects like Seas Suas bystander intervention; Be Your Best – for students with a disability; the NUI Galway Tax Clinic with guidance from tax experts; the Cusp sustainability strategy; The T Fund – for LGBTQ+ support; the Student Employability Award, which 300 students a year receive, making a genuine difference to their prospects as they enter the world of work. Society projects have received almost €300,000 in the last 6 years and collaborated with other services on many more including the development of YourSpace and developing the Society calendar into a university wide calendar. Individual societies have also received funding for their ideas. Sports Clubs have received €900,000 for equipment the clubs could not have been established without.
Among many other projects it also funds diversity and inclusion training for staff and students, which ensures all lectures are accessible for all students and adequate awareness of gender and LGBTQ+ rights and issues.  

What is at stake here with proposed changes to the Student Project Fund?
On the face of it – an immediate cut to funding for your services; and cuts to services that are proven to make a difference to your wellbeing, your life and for your future. 

See Projects fund Report Here



Some of the questions the USCG have asked the SU

Is there a possibility of postponing the referendum for this year, engaging in a robust consultation process with relevant services and students and bringing it back next year?

Could the referendum not be separated into two parts - 1. Dealing with the 100e for the sports unit and 2. Dealing with the proposed reform to relevant services? The current proposal appears to conflate the two together, although we believe these to be two separate issues.

Have you engaged with students about what they actually need versus what you believe they need? It appears that the proposed increases have been made arbitrarily, without engagement with students and relevant services as to what they actually need.

Will societies lose priority access to Aras na Mac Leinn? 

Have you/the university considered that there may be additional costs for students down the line as a direct result of this referendum? If so, how do we propose to support students to pay them?

What exactly does the 40e per students that the Students’ Union is proposing to receive do? Can you provide a detailed breakdown of this cost and its need?

If we are not able to fund the upkeep and maintenance of Aras na Mac Leinn, who will ultimately control the building at this point? There is a worry that more conferences/corporate events will be placed into the building to cover costs and ultimately students will lose control/access to their student space. 

A lot of funding is going through the SU as per the new levy, will this give more power to the SU to decide what projects get funded, and are there any protections for societies on this?

Why won’t the SU accept the 50% reduction which allows less of an allocation in funding to the sports centre, and still save students money which was offered by the bursar?

Why is Céim getting funded and not the other mentoring programmes such as ATS Mentoring which benefits a larger cohort of students?

Why is there no minimum number of votes for the referendum as one person voting could dictate an answer?

What systems are in place to ensure that members of the executive will not put certain causes, (such as issues of disadvantaged and minority groups, controversial topics etc.) at risk if the SU gains this power?

Clubs & Societes Information Session withnthe SU at 6pm Tuesday 20th April Link will be posted here later.

Video of Monday Nights SU Information session here

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