The University Students’ Council will determine CHRW/Radio Western's 2018 referendum question this Wednesday. 

To recap, last year, the USC voted to put CHRW/Radio Western’s funding to a student referendum in the 2018 USC elections. A motion determining the referendum's questions will be presented to council this Wednesday with a ballot containing three options for the radio station's future student fee: status quo at $12.47, a decrease to $10.50 over three years or a decrease to $3 over three years. 

The USC is re-evaluating CHRW's fee for a few reasons. As stated in the motion, members of the USC believe today's campus is substantially different from the environment in which the fee was initially passed through referendum in 1978. Further, the motion states undergraduates currently make up 47 per cent of Radio Western’s volunteer body yet provide 96 per cent of CHRW's revenue, among other reasons.

Andrew Barton, station manager at Radio Western, said a reduction to $3 would prevent CHRW from operating essential parts of the radio, including their transmitter and maintenance of their FM radio licence after it expires in 2021. 

“We welcome the accountability from the USC to reduce the financial burden on the students,” Barton said. “A reduction to $3 is something we really don’t want to see happen. ... What we want to do is compromise with the students' council.”

According to Barton, CHRW is already creating alternative funding programs through fundraising and advertising to lower its reliance on the student fee. However, he said a reduction to $3 will make it very difficult for these alternative revenue programs to flourish.

In response to the motion, Kyle Tang, president of the Faculty of Music Students’ Council, created a Facebook event asking students to support the elimination of the $3 ballot option at the Nov. 29 USC meeting. The event page has drawn many supporters, with 95 members attending the meeting and a further 58 interested. 

“One of the very interesting things about Radio Western is that it offers a lot of opportunities for students interested in radio broadcasting,” Tang said. “There are actually over 200 undergraduate student volunteers that work with Radio Western."

Anna Svikhnushin, second-year psychology student, is currently a volunteer at CHRW.

“It has been literally life transforming,” said Svikhnushin. “There’s really hilarious people here who love talking music, who love talking life and [who] are just really genuine, something I did not experience first year.”

Svikhnushin said that she considered dropping out of Western University because of her lack of involvement with music. However, getting involved with CHRW exposed her to the London music scene and changed her mind about dropping out.

Tang said the ideal position would be to hold the referendum with the original two options: either a $12.47 or $10.50 fee. This way the reduction in fees is still left for students to decide but does not provide an option that would drastically limit the services Radio Western currently provides.

“Reducing student fees is always important, but I think that Radio Western is really working towards that,” Tang said. “All the steps we have seen them taking this year have been highly positive in that direction.” 

Tang believes community support will definitely have an impact on council’s decision.

“I am inviting anyone who supports Radio Western to come to the meeting,” said Tang. “We want people to be united in their support, but at the same time, keep it positive.”

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 in the University Community Centre community room. 

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Hill Du is a news editor for volume 111 at the Gazette. You can contact him with any questions or concerns at hill.du@westerngazette.ca

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