Students still on the hook for AMS incidental fees

In the wake of COVID-19, the AMS has avoided stating whether it will refund students’ incidental fees for on-campus resources.

With students taking online classes and social distancing in full force, UBC students are unable to access campus resources and activities they paid for through AMS incidental fees.

AMS President Cole Evans said in a statement to The Ubyssey that while the society expects to resume operations this summer, the AMS will continue to process student opt-out requests for eligible fees and “encourage students facing financial hardship to take advantage of the subsidies offered to some of the larger fees,” including the health and dental insurance plan.

“The AMS is continuing to do what we can to support students during this difficult time,” he said. “While the AMS has had to reduce all of our in-person operations, we are looking forward to slowly resuming our various services over the coming weeks.”

The AMS budgeted for revenues totalling $23,030,788.66 from students in 2019/20 along with $888,657 from businesses and $375,000 from returns on investments. Of this money, $20,898,475.11 goes to non-discretionary spending.

The Ubyssey looked into whether students can still access the resources they paid for.

Discretionary fees

These are fees that the AMS can spend how it sees fit. As well, discretionary fees are allocated toward the many activities and resources that run through the AMS Food Bank and the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC).

General Fee: $43.15

The fee collected from every member of the AMS. Membership is required if you are an undergraduate student at UBC.

Sustainable Food Access Fund Fee: $0.39

According to AMS COVID-19 updates, the AMS Food Bank remains open during the pandemic, but “the AMS has had to reduce all of [their] in-person operations,” Evans said.

Sexual Assault Support Services Fee: $9.50

While the SASC has had to suspend in-person supports for survivors of sexual assault, the centre in April moved its services online and over the phone for the pandemic.

Non-discretionary fees

These are fees that the AMS under its bylaws must go to predetermined services — the money from these fees are meant for specific purposes, such as funding long-term projects and student bursaries.

Bike Kitchen Fee: $1.12

The full-service, non-profit bike shop announced an indefinite closure on March 17 due to physical distancing.

“The money from the Bike Kitchen Fee is used to support the store’s operations, including staff salaries,” said Evans.

Athletics and Intramural Fee: $21.00

Students are temporarily unable to participate in campus sports and activities due to UBC Athletics & Recreation closing its facilities until June 30. According to Evans, the money from the fee is being used to finance UBC REC operations and the development of new recreational facilities.

Campus Culture and Performance Fund: $2.50

Clubs continue to receive money from this fund, despite many in-person events being suspended to respect social distancing measures.

“The Campus Culture and Performance Fund will continue to be distributed to its recipient clubs to support their operations as per student-mandated referendum,” said Evans.

While many of the AMS activities and resources are temporarily unavailable, Evans said that incidental fees are still being used to maintain operations in anticipation for the relaxation of social distancing measures.

“Our AMS team is continuing to work hard for students even during these difficult times,” he said.

“Some of these fees are opt-out eligible, but all of the revenue collected from them continues to be important as we expect things to begin opening up over the next few weeks.”