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SU Elections 2023 Q&A: Law Students’ Association Referendum

The Students’ Union 2023 election is giving student enrolled in the faculty of law the opportunity to decide on renewing the Law Students' Association fee.

The Students’ Union 2023 election is giving students enrolled in the faculty of law the opportunity to decide on renewing the Law Students’ Association (LSA) faculty association membership fee (FAMF).

The LSA’s FAMF goes toward providing students in the faculty of law at the University of Alberta with academic supports, events, and scholarships, amongst other things. This referendum is proposing a four-year FAMF of $50 a year for both full-time and part-time students.

Representing the LSA is Damon Atwood, who is the current first-year representative for the LSA.

The following interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What is this referendum trying to accomplish?

Damon Atwood: This referendum is just to maintain the current level of funding that we have with our FAMF. We had conducted some consultations with the students earlier in the year, and the overwhelming majority wanted to maintain the fee at its current level. So our goal is to essentially renew the fee where it is today.

For students who don’t know, what is the Law Students’ Association (LSA)?

Atwood: Basically, we advocate for the members of the faculty of law, the students, and we essentially organize and help set up different events and initiatives. That includes things like intramural teams. We have a bunch student group grants that we provide. We manage the lockers and a bunch of other services to other faculty.

If this referendum passes, how much will students be paying and how was that cost determined?

Atwood: If the referendum passes, the payment is gonna stay the same as it was during all the previous years that the FAMF was in effect, so $50. Essentially, it’s going to maintain the same level of services that we’ve been providing up to this date. So the vast majority of that money goes to events and grants, and our goal is just to maintain the service that the students expect.

Will all students be paying this fee?

Atwood: The goal is for all law students to pay the fee in order to adequately fund our our services, but my understanding is that there is an opt out method from the FAMF, for students who meet certain criteria.

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

Atwood: The LSA is specific to the students at the faculty of law. So although we all have representation through the Students’ Union, there’s a lot of issues that are specific within the faculty. We’re in a best position to advocate for these issues, as well as arrange events and grants for the groups that are within the faculty itself. So the money that they give us, we’re using to better their specific student experience.

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Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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