CLASP fee referendum starts today

Pro-CLASP posterWhat could you buy for $1.50?

That’s the question York students will  be asked to consider this week as they vote on a proposed increase to their student levy. The increase of 10 cents per credit, or about $1.50 per student each semester, will go towards funding the Community & Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Left: Pro-CLASP poster

“CLASP is Ontario’s oldest student Legal Aid clinic but unfortunately it is also the worst funded. We are primarily funded by Legal Aid Ontario and York University students,” says CLASP Director Marian MacGregor. “Our student levy funding is not tied to inflation and our funding has not kept up even though the clinic has continued to grow over the past 30 years.

“Each year we try to do more with less and we have reached a tipping point where we require additional funding to continue to provide existing and new high quality services to York students and low-income individuals in Toronto,” says MacGregor. “Many of the people that we serve would otherwise not have access to legal services.”

MacGregor hopes that students will come out and vote on the levy. Currently, York students pay 5 cents per credit for the CLASP levy. The CLASP team is proposing to increase the levy to 15 cents. “$1.50 is about the price of a cup of coffee,” MacGregor says. “Students use our services and there is an urgent need to provide more services, which we can’t provide because of our lack of funding.”

A team of 15 Osgoode Hall Law School students works full-time at CLASP, supervised by a multidisciplinary team of four lawyers and a social worker. MacGregor and two full-time staff support the CLASP team. At any one time, more than 150 volunteers provide assistance to the group.

Over the past year, CLASP has provided legal assistance to more than 2,000 people. The legal services are provided free of charge to York students and to low-income individuals living in Toronto. Some of the services provided to York students include fighting unfair actions by landlords and providing assistance to students involved in disciplinary or legal issues. CLASP worked with the Ontario Law Union after the G20 Summit to provide information about filing police complaints to individuals who were arrested at the summit but not charged.

CLASP also operates a variety of satellite locations, including: Branson Hospital, Metro North Courthouse, Toronto Immigration Holding Centre, Rexdale Community Legal Services and Yorkgate Mall.

Six polling stations will be open March 28 to 31. The stations will be located in Vari Hall, Osgoode Hall Law School, the Scott Library, the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, the Student Centre and on the Glendon campus. Students can also vote online.

For more information on the referendum and the services provided by CLASP visit the CLASP Referendum website.