2022 League Election Q&A: Interdepartmental Science Student Association Membership Fee

In addition to electing new student representatives, the 2022 Student Union Election will give full-time students in the Faculty of Science the opportunity to vote on the Faculty Association Membership Fee (FAMF) of the Interdepartmental Society of Science Students (ISSS).

The ISSS proposed fee would be $5.00 per semester per full-time student in the Faculty of Science. These students would also have the option of opting out of fees. The money raised would provide science students with specialized services and programs, including Science Week and Wellness Week.

Mehul Pal, a fourth-year neuroscience student and current ISSS Marketing Director, represents the ISSS in this Q&A.

The following interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What is this referendum trying to accomplish?

Mehul Pal: We are trying to renew the Sci5 membership fee, also known as FAMF. If you are a science student, you must pay a $5.00 per semester fee to ISSS. Basically, without these fees we are unable to deliver most of our events and services. It is, in fact, the second lowest fee, of any faculty at the U of A. Every four years, what we do, just to make sure the students hold us accountable, is hold this referendum. Basically, if the referendum passes this month, the ISSS will continue to collect the fee. If he does not pass, the fee will become opt-in. I would like to point out that at this time the fees are also opt-out. So if you don’t want to pay the fees, that’s fine. You can simply go through a website and turn off the fees, but you won’t be able to access any advisory events or services we offer at this time.

Editor’s note: The ISSS has the third lowest FAMF fees of all faculties for the evaluation of the total fall/winter fees. Sci5 fees total $10.00, while Education students and Arts students pay $8.00 and $6.00 respectively.

For students who don’t know, what is the ISSS?

Boyfriend: ISSS is the association of professors of the faculty of sciences. Basically, we are here to represent the interests of science students. We’re the primary source for most of the big events you’ll see at the Faculty of Science. For example, we have Science Week and we have Wellness Week. We have professional development activities, we have holiday events [such as] Christmas events and [other] holiday events and social gatherings.

These are on the events side, and we also want to provide services to our students. If you’ve ever used a microwave in any of the science buildings, it’s thanks to the ISSS. If you have used a locker before, we provide that too. If you are interested in scholarships, we are offering up to $25,000 in scholarships. Really, we want to connect both the academic and social side of the university just to improve the lives of students in the science faculty here at U of A.

If this plebiscite passes, how much will students pay and how was that cost determined?

Boyfriend: It’s quite simple. Each semester you will only pay $5.00. So that’s going to be a total of $10.00 in the year.

These fees are simply determined based on the events and services we currently provide. About 80 percent of our revenue comes from that $10.00 throughout the year. We thought $5 per semester is quite reasonable compared to some of the other fees students have to pay right now. Then, on top of that, it is the second lowest fee among all faculty associations.

Editor’s note: The ISSS has the third lowest FAMF fees of all faculties for the evaluation of the total fall/winter fees. Sci5 fees total $10.00, while Education students and Arts students pay $8.00 and $6.00 respectively.

Will all students pay these fees?

Boyfriend: If you are registered as a full-time student in the Faculty of Science, yes, you must pay the fees. If you don’t want to pay the fee, you are more than welcome to opt out – at this time there is an opt out option if needed.

Why do you think students should care about the work done by the ISSS?

Boyfriend: Without the ISSS, I feel that the university experience would be rather bland. As we know, the university itself does not do much for the students. Without funding from these Sci5 fees, organizations like the ISSS would not be able to provide many of the events and services you see throughout your college experience.

You probably won’t be able to meet many new friends, and you probably won’t be able to use our lockers or many of our other online services. [such as] ISSS Awards where we basically get you to come to events.

Since the ISSS is the faculty association, if you are a science student, you are likely also part of a departmental organization. For example, if you are in the biological sciences program, you have the Departmental Association of Biology Students. Many of these groups get much of their funding from the ISSS. If the Sci5 fee disappears, much of the funding that the ISSS gives to these groups also disappears.

Overall, the experience of the universe would truly decline. We’re just here to add a little spark to the fun you have here at college.

With files from Jin He

Andrew B. Reiter