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Society Fee Referendums

Fee Referendums

Follow the steps below to go through the society fee approval process

Note that in order to hold a fee referendum, your society must first submit your question to the Office of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) for review. See Step 1 below for important submission dates.


To initiate a new fee or to continue an existing fee, student societies must obtain approval from their members through a student-held fee referendum. A student-held fee referendum asks society members to vote on whether or not they want to implement or continue a particular society fee.

If your society wishes to initiate a fee referendum, carefully follow the steps below and submit your question via our online form.

Always be aware of the end dates of your society's fees. Often a fee's end date is missed and societies have to scramble the following term to get a fee re-approved. Keep your end dates in mind to ensure you start the referendum process early!

Note that a few societies have fees that have grand-fathered COLA (cost of living index) increases each year.

The University will implement the increase automatically for these fees:

  • Bank of Canada CPI rate for month of March for Québec


Step 1: Review Fee Approval Timeline

Before initiating a student-held fee referendum, review the following suggested timeline and make a plan for adhering to it as closely as possible.

Note that societies should submit the referendum question to the Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning (DPSLL) using the online form at least two weeks before the referendum is to be held. This ensures that there is enough time for an internal review of the question as well as for consultation with other offices that have an interest in the referendum.

Societies may expect an answer from the DPSLL within two weeks of submitting the question.


Timeline for Fee Approval

  Fall Implementation Winter Implementation
Submit question to DPSLL for review February 1 September 1
Society's referendum is held March October/November
Results of referendum to DPSLL April 1 November 15
Memo from DPSLL to Student Accounts confirming approval April 15 November 20

Step 2: Write the Referendum Question

Your referendum question should explain the following details:

  • Who is being charged?
    • Full-time students
    • Part-time students
    • Students in a particular major within a faculty
    • Students at a particular campus
    • Students with a particular classification (for graduate studies)
  • What is the fee amount per student?
  • Are there any special conditions for the fee?
  • Are students able to opt out of the fee?
  • What is the purpose of the fee?
    • Special event, new materials/equipment, operation costs, etc.
  • On what date will the fee be implemented, and for how long?
    • Usually fees are approved for a three-year period


Referendum Question Examples

Bad Question: The Faculty of Arts students' association is proposing that students in 3 courses or more pay $1.50 per term for new chairs for the student lounge.

Better Question: The Faculty of Arts students' association is proposing that all students registered in 9 or more credits should pay $1.50 per term, starting in Fall 2008, for new chairs for the student lounge. This opt-outable fee will continue for three years, at which time it must be brought back to the membership for renewal. Do you agree?

Step 3: Submit the Question

Once you have written your referendum question, you must submit it to the Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning (DPSLL) via the on-line form.

Note that the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) or Student Society President must assume responsibility for all student-initiated referenda, according to the guidelines outlined in your Society's constitution or by-laws.

Step 4: Compile the Results

The Chief Returning Officer or Student Society President will compile the referendum results, ensuring that the quorum (i.e., the minimum number of votes needed) was met.

Deliver these results in writing on your society's letterhead to the Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning (DPSLL), copying the Director, Student Accounts. The letter of results must include the question that was asked.

Along with the letter of results, provide a fee description in both English and French to the DPSLL so that the fee can be posted on the Student Accounts website.

Step 5: DPSLL Verifies the Referendum

The Office of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) will verify against the society's constitution that the results were obtained through a valid fee referendum, and will confirm their approval of the fee's implementation to the Director, Student Accounts.

Depending on the nature of the fee, the DPSLL may have a conversation with society executives as to where the fee should be deposited. If the fee is to benefit a University Faculty or Department, the society may request that the funds be deposited directly to a University fund rather than to the society's trust fund. This would require the society to then cut a cheque to the University. Students may request annual reports on the nature of expenditures from the Department who administers the fund.

Step 6: Publicize Opt-Out Fees

If you have a fee from which students can opt out, you must let students know that they have the option of not paying the fee.

  • On your website, publicize the dates during which students can opt out of the fee. Note that the opt-out period is limited to the two weeks prior to the fee payment deadline in September and in January.
  • Let students know that they can access the opt-out menu on Minerva as soon as fees are assessed.
  • Help students make informed choices by devoting part of your website to describing society fees and their benefits.


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