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LSA To Move Ahead with Opt-Out

Adeel Mulla (LSA President)

On March 5th and 6th the Law Students’ Association (“LSA”) will hold an online referendum to determine if students would prefer for their LSA membership fees to be collected through Bear tracks.  In other words, if the referendum is successful, a $50 charge would be levied on every student that is a member of the Faculty of Law, this is otherwise known as collecting a Faculty Association Membership fee (“FAMF”).  However, under this new fee collection method, a two-week opt-out window will be made available after classes commence in September, during which students can choose not to participate as members of the Law Students Association.  Students will be reminded of the opportunity to opt-out of the FAMF by receiving at least two emails through the Faculty’s main email distribution list.  After the two-week period has closed, and upon receiving final registration numbers, the VP Finance and President will sign cheques refunding the price of membership to all the students who have chosen to opt-out.  No reasons will need to be provided to opt out of the FAMF.

The purpose of moving membership fees online

Practicality is the ultimate goal in pursuing a FAMF, the purpose of which is twofold:

First, an automatic fee would reduce the time and effort it takes to sign up all our students during the first week of school, and would alternatively provide all students with the ability to enjoy the benefits of membership without worrying about attending the membership drive during such a small window of opportunity. Our membership consists of nearly 80% of our student population. We feel it would be even higher given that a number of students are on exchange during the first semester, participating in training for clinical courses, or are student leaders in the school and are simply busy with other commitments during the first week.

Second, to ensure a steady and consistent stream of revenue, which the Executive can use to plan membership benefits and the year’s activities in advance.  So much of the LSA’s operating budget depends on the membership drive in September, and part of our big sales pitch is that only LSA members could purchase CANs under the old financial model (the revenue from CANs sales accounted for approximately $6000 of the LSA’s operating budget). Furthermore, a tremendous effort was made during the summer of 2013 to increase sponsorship by nearly 50% in order to fund one year’s worth of free online CANs. This can be maintained every year, theoretically. However, the LSA Executive would like to ensure that the revenue used to provide free online CANs remains consistent every year, should the Executive be unable to procure similar sponsorship numbers every year. It is absolutely unfeasible to require the Executive to wait and determine whether or not providing CANs, in tandem with sponsorship efforts over the summer, will or will not cause significant financial issues for the LSA, only once membership numbers are in.