Referendum RPC05/1-USI Guide

Referendum RPC05/1-USI Guide

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On Thursday 7th April 2005, you will be asked to vote in a referendum (RFC05/1) that will decide on the future of NUI Galway Students’ Union affiliation to the Union of Students in Ireland, and also whether or not the Student Levy should be increased from September 2005.

It is important to remember that this referendum is not solely about paying €5 extra in the Student Levy, but also about NUI Galway Students’ Union’s participation in the national representative body for students in Ireland. This information sheet outlines the facts relating to the “mechanics” of the referendum and what the potential outcomes are. This sheet does not provide a case for or against the motion, nor on NUI Galway Students’ Union’s participation in the USI, nor does it give direction on whether you should vote for or against the motion. The “Yes” and “No” campaign teams will publish these arguments over the next few weeks.

NUI Galway Students’ Union asks that you read this information carefully and inform yourself fully of both sides of the argument in advance of the referendum.

What is the motion?

The motion is as follows: “That Article 6 sub-section i.B. be retained in the Constitution of the Students’ Union of the National University of Ireland, Galway (hereinafter referred to as “the Students’ Union”), thereby extending its affiliation of the Students’ Union to the Union of Students in Ireland (hereinafter referred to as “the USI”);

and that the Student Levy at National University of Ireland, Galway be immediately increased by €5 per annum to pay increased affiliation fees to the USI and to cover all costs associated with the participation of the Students’ Union in any events organised by, or relating to, the USI, with the balance being added to the Students’ Union representational budget.”

What does this mean?

This entire motion will not appear on the ballot paper, but instead you will be asked to vote on whether you agree (“Yes”) or disagree (“No”) with the motion.

A “Yes” vote would mean that NUI Galway Students’ Union would remain affiliated to the Union of Students in Ireland and that the Student Levy would be raised by €5 to cover all costs associated with membership of the Union of Students in Ireland.

A “No” vote would mean that NUI Galway Students’ Union would disaffiliate immediately from the Union of Students in Ireland and that the Student Levy would not increase.

What is the Union of Students in Ireland?

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is the national representative body for students in Ireland.

Do you think we should be part of the national Union?

There are arguments both for and against remaining affiliated to the USI. However, as outlined above, this information sheet is not intended to argue those points. That is the responsibility of the “Yes” and “No” campaign teams.

Why does one motion contain two parts?

The motion contains two parts because one part of the motion is dependent on the other, i.e. if NUI Galway Students’ Union is to remain affiliated to the USI, the Student Levy must be increased to pay the additional affiliation fees because there is no alternative source for this income.

Why must students pay increased affiliation fees?

In March 2005, the National Congress of the USI voted to increase the affiliation fees for students from €2.86 and €1.43 per full- and part-time student per annum respectively to €5.00 and €2.50 per full- and part-time student per annum respectively. As a result of this, the affiliation fee that NUI Galway Students’ Union must pay to the USI increased from approximately €34,000 per annum to approximately €65,000 per annum.

Unfortunately, the budget of NUI Galway Students’ Union is not sufficient to pay the increased charges. This is why the students of NUI Galway are being asked if they wish to increase the Student Levy to cover these additional costs.

Will the Student Levy decrease if the referendum fails?

No. The affiliation fees for USI are not currently paid from the Student Levy, but rather from the Non-Tuition Charge (i.e. the €750 charge). If NUI Galway Students’ Union were to disaffiliate from the USI, the appropriate portion of the Non-Tuition Charge would be re-allocated elsewhere.

If necessary, the University’s Student Services committee would decide where the money would be re-allocated. In this situation, NUI Galway Students’ Union would propose that this portion of the fee should be added to the Union’s representational budget, but there is no guarantee of what will happen.

Why increase the Student Levy by €5?

Although the affiliation fees have increased by €2.14 and €3.57 per full- and part-time student respectively, there are substantial costs involved in being an active affiliate of the USI. For example, the cost of sending a full delegation from NUI Galway Students’ Union (21 delegates, two observers) to National Congress 2005 will be almost €10,000. There are also numerous other activities such as National Council, working groups, training and other events throughout the year. The budget of NUI Galway Students’ Union cannot sustain these costs into the future.

Is NUI Galway Students’ Union taking a stance?

The NUI Galway Students’ Union Executive is elected to represent, support and advise the members of NUI Galway Students’ Union, i.e. the students of NUI Galway. Because of this, the Executive has decided to take a stance on this referendum. However, this stance is partly dependent on the outcome of several key motions at National Congress 2005, so a final decision will not be confirmed until after these motions are discussed. National Congress runs from 29th March to 1st April 2005.

Why is the referendum being held now?

NUI Galway Students’ Union has been aware of the increased affiliation fees since March 2004 and that a referendum must be held to address this funding shortfall. However, in August 2004, the USI appointed a group to review the USI Constitution and to present its findings to National Congress in March 2005 for discussion and decision.

In light of this, NUI Galway Students’ Union felt it appropriate to await these findings to allow for a full and balanced discussion on the current referendum motion.

Why not increase the Student Levy for clubs, societies, etc.?

This referendum is not related to any matter other than the USI and associated affiliation fees. However, it is the intention of NUI Galway Students’ Union Executive to review the level and sources of funding for clubs, societies and other groups in NUI Galway during the 2005/06 academic year.

When does polling take place?

Polling will take place from 12:00-20:00 on Thursday 7th April 2005.

Further Information

Further information on the referendum is available from the Students’ Union offices. An open debate on this referendum is being organised by the Political Discussion Society and will be advertised soon.

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