TRUSU hosting referendum on student refugee program

The Students' Union urging its members to vote in an important referendum this week

Beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning students are encouraged to go to the TRUSU Lecture Hall and vote in the student refugee program referendum.

Voting times are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. until noon on Friday. The ballots will be counted Friday afternoon. Ballots can be cast at the TRUSU Lecture Hall, located on the first floor of the CAC building.

The referendum will give students a chance to voice their opinion on the proposed student refugee program facilitated by World University Service of Canada.

The program would see the imposition of an 85¢ per credit fee for on-campus students. Full-time students registered in five courses would see a fee increase of $12.75 each semester, or $25.50 per annum. The fee increase will not apply to open learning students. The per credit number was generated from the $100,000.00 total per year needed to accommodate four refugee students according to Sierra Rae, vice-president of equity for TRUSU.

“Most other universities across Canada, over 80 of them actually run this program so we’d like to catch up and show that TRU can do that program as well,” Rae said. “There’s a number of countries that are going through a refugee crisis right now and it’s been really popular in the news. I think this is a good time for us to be able to promote this program and talk about it and really get the information out there because it’s really prominent in our society right now.”

The student selected to receive financial aid from the school will be chosen from the pool of refugees currently in a United Nations recognized refugee camp. They will have to go through a rigorous screening process before coming to the country as well as applying for Canadian citizenship.

Currently, the scope of the program would encompass tuition, housing, food allowance and money for social activities to help integrate the student into the community. The extent of financial aid will change throughout their time spent in Canada and be dependent on how long they have been in the country for.

During their first year at TRU, the student’s coverage would be 100 per cent, meaning the school would completely cover tuition, housing, food and social activities. Subsequent years would see a 25 per cent diminishment in funding every year. A refugee student in their second year would receive 75 per cent funding, a third year would receive 50 per cent funding, and a fourth year would receive 25 per cent funding.

“In order for the referendum to pass we need 20 per cent of the membership to participate and 51 per cent to vote in favour,” said TRUSU executive director Nathan Lane regarding the referendum. “If we don’t receive both of those thresholds then the referendum will be invalid and the program will not move forward.”

Because of the 20 per cent student base requirement, make sure you get out and vote!