SRA passes motion to allow club to ask for a levy of $0.90 per student

Three years ago, Joshua Patenaude attended the very first general meeting of the McMaster Marching Band.

It was small then. It had just received ratification as an MSU club, and was finding its feet with meager funding and only a few members.

But now that the Band has grown in size and in reputation, Patenaude, who is now group’s president, feels that it’s time to move forward.

“We’ve been doing a lot of it on our own,” he said, “but it’s gotten to the point where we need funding to continue on.”

When the student body votes for the McMaster Students Union’s next president in January, a referendum question will appear on the ballot. It will ask whether students are willing to pay $0.90 each annually (indexed to CPI) to support McMaster’s marching band.

If passed, the fee would provide the band with close to $19,000 next year.

The money would go to costs like buying and repairing instruments, renting practicing space, investing in new uniforms, paying instructors and covering fees charged to play at certain events.

“We think this [money] will go a long way to sustain the band and to keep it open to the McMaster community,” said Patenaude.

Western University has had a marching band since 1938. The Queen’s Bands have been around since 1905.

Students wishing to join the marching band will continue to pay a membership fee, likely in the $65-$75 range, said Patenaude. The added money will, though, make the band more accessible in other ways. Members will not have to provide their own instruments, and the size of the band could expand to upwards of 70 people.

“If you have a passion about music, if you have a passion about committing to the spirit of McMaster, we want to make that a reality for you. We don’t want obstacles in the way,” said Patenaude.

The referendum was approved by the SRA at its Nov. 25 meeting.

In order to get a referendum on the presidential election ballot, a student must either collect the signatures of three per cent of the full-time undergraduate student body (roughly 600 signatures) or get approval from the SRA.

As they put together a proposal for the latter, the Marching Band was also collecting signatures. By the meeting, they had collected 391.

The Marching Band had initially asked the SRA to approve a proposal for a $1 fee per student. According to their budgeting, that number would cover operating expenses while leaving a little wiggle room for growth or unanticipated capital purchases. The Assembly chose to instead approve $0.90, which would only cover the expected operating costs.

Balloting for the MSU presidential election, and for the referendum, will take place from Jan. 29 to 31.

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