The Loaded Ladle kitchen, the CKDU-FM campus radio station and the Dalhousie Outdoor Society (DOS) are seeking student levy increases for the next academic year.
The potential levy increases were presented at the Jan. 31 Dalhousie Student Union council meeting. Each motion brought to the council was discussed to decide whether to make the levy increase a referenda question, to be voted on by students in the upcoming DSU election.
The requests to host referenda for the levy increases were approved.
Every semester, Dalhousie University and University of King’s College students pay levy fees to support the operations of certain societies and initiatives around campus. According to the motions presented at council, full-time students paid $4.50 of tuition money to CKDU, $4.50 to the Loaded Ladle and $0.50 to the DOS in the 2022-2023 academic year. Part-time students paid $1.00 to CKDU, $2.50 to the Loaded Ladle and $0.25 to the DOS.
If the referenda pass, full-time students will see a $2.00 hike in levy fees for both CKDU and the Ladle, while part-time students will pay $0.50 more to CKDU and $1.50 more to the Ladle. The DOS levy for full-time students will increase $0.50 for full-time students and $0.25 for part-timers. None of the levy increases will affect students at Dalhousie’s campus in Truro.
CKDU wants more students to access its space
Tucked away on the fourth floor of the Student Union Building is CKDU, the only campus radio station in the Halifax area. Running since 1985, its broadcasts are available on the 88.1 FM radio dial and online.
According to Nathan Wisnicki, the operations coordinator at CKDU, the station’s student levy hasn’t risen “in decades.”
“The student levy would seek to help us get some operational expenditure in order to lessen the staff turnover,” says Wisnicki. He attributes the quick turnover of past employees of CKDU to heavy workloads with incompatible pay. “And also so that we can gear up for certain upgrades at the station [which are] badly needed.”
Despite these capacity issues, Wisnicki says they’ve had a steady team for the past year, with all paid staff having worked there for more than a year. He cites an enthusiastic staff and board looking to “make CKDU a little fresher again, as it once was.”
With a larger staff, he’d like to make the CKDU space more available to students.
“Dal students should know that if you have a Dalhousie email address, you are already a member of CKDU,” said Wisnicki. “You have access to recording with our professional recording microphones and all our equipment here.
“We want this to become a place that people can hang out at and do podcasts of their own and do school projects.”
Demand for free food on campus rising
“The demand for free food servings has almost doubled,” says Öykü Sü Guler, the volunteer coordinator of the Loaded Ladle. “We’re seeing 300 servings per day, when we saw an average of 150 servings last year and the year before.”
Guler recalled a recent conversation with a student who inquired about the serving times of the Ladle. That student was recently informed of a rent increase that is jeopardizing their financial stability. They told Guler they’ll need to access the Ladle regularly to continue accessing much of their food.
While Nova Scotia’s minimum wage sits at $13.60/hour, the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives – Nova Scotia said the living wage for Haligonians had reached $23.50/hour in 2022.
“That and the rising cost of tuition is definitely driving more students to the Loaded Ladle,” says Guler.
The levy increase “will allow us to sustain our operations for the next seven years and also potentially give some space for growth as well,” said Guler. Over the years, she has watched and supported the Ladle’s various expansions. Aside from doubling their daily servings, the team has expanded to the Sexton Campus, serving twice a week. They also regularly provide solidarity servings at actions and events in the broader Halifax community.
Guler hopes to one day expand the Ladle’s operations to the Carleton Campus, as well as King’s College. She said her team has many aspirations for the cause. But for now, the levy increase is necessary just to keep food on the table.
The three societies will be able to campaign for levy increases from March 1 to 13, with referenda voting taking place during the DSU elections on March 14 and 15.