by Jarrett Crowe
Students at the University of Regina are petitioning for a referendum towards a permanent fee to fund UR Pride, the school’s centre for sexuality and gender diversity. Currently, UR Pride is funded solely by grants, with no permanent funding. This has led to concern if those grants no longer remain available.
“We want to hold a referendum because we really want to make sure the centre has a long term plan and can exist after all of us are long gone (and moved) on to other things and give the centre long term financial stability,” said Jonathan Petrychyn, UR Pride treasurer and board member, who believes UR Pride cannot solely rely on grants and is “spearheading” the referendum petition.
The University of Regina and the U of R Students’ Union fund UR Pride each through $20,000 grants, which funds a full time director, events and the services they provide.
If the referendum goes through and is passed in favour, UR Pride would be directly funded through student fees. Lisa Smith, executive director, said that the projected cost per student is comparable to what students already indirectly pay.
“We will not be taking any more money from the students than we’re already receiving; $1 per full-time student and $0.50 per part-time student will equal basically what we’re receiving from URSU,” said Smith.
Student feedback on campus has been largely positive stated Petrychyn. “We were quite surprised at how when we presented the petition to (students) and they were, ‘Why hasn’t this happened sooner?’ ...They’re bringing the movement from the grassroots to get this (referendum) off the ground,” said Petrychyn.
The work of UR Pride benefits all students, and not just those who self identify as LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Intersex) said Matt Lensen, LGBTI director on URSU’s board of directors. He also believes that a potential referendum on sustainable funding is “long-overdue.”
“Most people look at it as an LGBTI-specific student centre, when in fact they offer quite a variety of resources. They offer safe-sex information, advice, [peer support]... they’ve got quite the selection of books, DVDs and information for students to use on projects,” said Lensen.
Smith said that even if the referendum goes through, they plan to continue operating with the grant from the university and will look into other grant opportunities as well.