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Queen’s University radio station, Canada’s second oldest, could lose most of its budget

Click to play video: 'Changes to ancillary fees could impact Canada’s second oldest radio station' Changes to ancillary fees could impact Canada’s second oldest radio station
The province changed the way ancillary fees are collected from students, allowing them to choose which organizations their student fees will support, with the exception of health and safety programs – May 7, 2019

It’s Canada’s second-oldest radio station, but recent changes to how Ontario’s post-secondary students pay ancillary fees could eliminate most of the budget for Queen’s University’s CFRC.

“We had understood first that it might just affect student governments,” said Dinah Jansen, station manager with CFRC, Queen’s University’s campus radio station.

“But it was within a few days that we learned that any fee collecting group on any university campus would be affected, including CFRC.”

The province changed the way ancillary fees are collected from students, allowing them to choose which organizations their student fees will support, with the exception of health and safety programs.

READ MORE: Ontario to link post-secondary funding to grads’ employment and earnings

It has also proven harmful to student clubs, of which there are 230 on Queen’s campus. Auston Pierce, president of the Queen’s Alma Mater Society (AMS), said all will be affected, including the AMS itself.

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“We are losing anywhere from 30 to 40 per cent of our funding, which is used to advocate on behalf of students, provide jobs for students and deliver services that students need,” Pierce said. 

WATCH: War of words about Ontario education funding (April 17)

Click to play video: 'War of words about Ontario education funding' War of words about Ontario education funding
War of words about Ontario education funding – Apr 17, 2019

Mandatory fees this past school year totaled $655.99 for each student, while a total of up to $99 in optional fees were collected for 85 groups including the AMS Food Bank, Ontario Public Interest Research Group and the Yearbook Committee.

At CFRC, that means each time a student opts out of the once-mandatory fee, they’ll lose out on $7.50. If each student chose not to, that could mean nearly $200,000 in lost revenue.

A letter written by the campus radio station’s board of directors stated that this works out to about 70 percent of the radio station’s annual budget.

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CFRC turns 97 years old this fall, and is Canada’s second oldest radio station. Its centennial celebrations are already being planned — even with so much uncertainty surrounding this next school year.

READ MORE: Ontario tightens purse strings, PCs don’t plan to balance books until 2023-24

“Nobody can really plan a firm budget,” Jansen said. “Because we don’t know what our actual revenues are going to be.”

As a volunteer at the campus radio station, Hugh Ambrose says that as long as there is a CFRC, he’ll take to the airwaves. But the funding from ancillary fees would help keep the tools to do so functional.

“We have to upkeep the equipment,” Ambrose said “We have to bring in new equipment occasionally, or replace things that are getting worn out. That’s where the money is probably most needed.”

CFRC has reached out to former alumni for support, and plan to canvas Queen’s Campus throughout the summer and into frosh week to remind students to ‘opt in’ to their funding.

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