The Scarborough Campus Community Radio, better known as Fusion Radio, has won its referendum. They requested an eight dollar increase for their current levy which brings their $4.85/per student fee to $12.85/per student. The levy increase will go towards improving equipment in the studio, employment opportunity, engagement with students on campus with contests and prizes and overall outreach to audiences listening to the station. This will be in effect as of Sept. 30 of the 2017-18 academic school year.
The voting referendum was held on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Bladen Wing. Out of over 12,000 eligible student voters at UTSC, only a total 59 people voted, with 42 voting ‘for’ and 16 voting ‘against’ the increase. This referendum wasn’t an ordinary one, however. The fact that only 59 UTSC students voted on a decision that affects the entire student body going forward is telling on one hand, of the general apathy on campus, but on the other hand, speaks to how even a small number of students can make such a huge decision for an entire student body.
Ramisa Tasfia, the president of Fusion Radio, spoke to us about what this means for Fusion Radio, as well as the students at UTSC.
The Underground (UG): Tell me about yourself and what your role is in the station?
Ramisa Tasfia (RT): I am Ramisa, currently the President of the Board of Directors at Fusion Radio. As President of the Board I have many duties ranging from overseeing station operations, finances, staff, events and our high school co-op students. I am also the Marketing Director for Fusion Radio. I manage our social media accounts with the help of other staff, promote our events and services, event coverage, and more.
UG: You obviously know that Fusion Radio led its referendum, won it, and ultimately will have the levy increased from $4.85 to $12.85. What does the station plan to do with that increase?”
RT: While we did have a majority ‘yes’ votes for our referendum, it is not “ultimate” that we will get the increase. We must present our results, referendum process and information on our expansion plans to the Campus Council. Nevertheless, I do feel positive and hopeful that we have worked hard to follow the Handbook for Student Societies, our by-laws, and referenda/plebiscite policies in conducting our referendum this year. The increased fees will be allocated towards new jobs (i.e. news contributors, increased rewards for radio show hosts, sound and production engineers), more events and news coverage, as well as bigger and better campus events. This increase is necessary for our growth; I know that with a bigger budget we will be able to meet the needs of our campus community. Members that attended the referendum information meeting were very supportive of our expansion plans. Our team is determined to make the most of a bigger budget and have a radio station that Scarborough can be proud of.
UG: Out of over 12,000 eligible student voters, only 59 people voted in total. Do you think this was a fair election?
I do agree that our voter turnout was low; however, our team has worked hard to promote our referendum. We have made use of many platforms to promote our referendum. We put posters around campus via the SCSU, tabled in the Student Center. We promoted all over our social media platforms, and even got [UTSC’s] Twitter and Facebook pages to share information about our referendum. Outside of this, the National Campus Community Radio Association has supported and acknowledged our efforts, promoting our referendum on three or four different occasions. Though we have worked hard to promote on many platforms, the voter turnout was admittedly low. Yes, it does mean that only 59 students voted. Though this is a small ratio compared to the entirety of the UTSC campus consisting of about 13,000 students, I do not consider it a bad turn out. We had roughly the same number of students come to vote at our Board of Directors elections, and I have seen similar patterns of small voter turnouts at other student society elections at UTSC. We’ve talked about our referendum over the air and have been transparent with our community about the entire process.
UG: Do you think the levy increase will also increase student engagement with the station?
RT: Absolutely! There is so much to look forward to with a bigger budget. I look forward to increasing our DJ Rewards payouts so that our Radio Show hosts can make more money! This will also encourage more students to host radio shows for some extra cash. I look forward to having more staff, as well as hosting more events. A bigger budget will allow us to do more for our community. Having been president of Fusion Radio for two years, I have had many students ask me why Fusion Radio hasn’t been able to host more events, contests and giveaways. I have had many campus clubs ask for sponsorship opportunities. We have previously sponsored dance teams and musical events. We have also had many students apply for our scholarships. I also had many students ask for job opportunities at our radio station. The best way for me to meet the needs of those students is to request for a fee increase, which is what our team has gone forward with.