September 10, 2019 5:50 pm
Updated: September 11, 2019 9:08 am

‘Student choice initiative’ forcing Queen’s media to do more with less

WATCH: Soon, students across the province, including at Queen's, will decide whether or not to pay fees that help fund student-run organizations on campus.

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Come the end of September, Queen’s University students will have the option to opt out of fees, including ones that assist student-run organizations on campus.

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University students all across Ontario have until the end of the month to decide which incidental fees they don’t want to pay for. The change comes as part of the Ford government‘s ‘student choice initiative‘ announced in January.

READ MORE: Ford government plan would make student fees to support accessibility on some campuses optional

Now students will be able to opt out of certain fees that are now deemed non-essential – everything from campus food banks to student-run newspapers and radio stations.

Queen’s long-standing newspaper, The Journal, is one student-run organization that will be hurt by these cuts says Meredith Wilson-Smith, editor-in-chief of the paper says.

“I think it’s extremely misguided to say that student newspapers are not essential to student campuses…”

“…especially considering this once mandatory fee was once democratically instituted through a referendum by the student body. So students once chose to have this fee mandatory. To take that away is frankly irresponsible.”

READ MORE: Student editors unite to save campus papers after Ontario government changes tuition fees

Wilson-Smith’s colleague Iain Sherriff-Scott, managing editor of the Journal the paper plays an important role in the school community.

“The Journal is one of the oldest continuously publishing student newspapers in the country. We provided an extremely valuable service to the community, by keeping the university accountable and our student representatives.”

WATCH BELOW: Accessibility support fees now optional on some campuses

Even the student government is not immune to the impact of the ‘student choice initiative’.  AMS, the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s is also bracing for a decrease in funding.

“Our biggest concern is that we’re losing access and support of the vital services that students require.

“Things like some academic support, some grants and bursaries, financial assistant’s aid – all of the advocacy work we do as an organization,” says Austin Pierce, president of AMS.

READ MORE: Ontario post-secondary school food banks could lose money after tuition fee changes

For now, clubs, groups and organizations are trying to figure out how to make up for potential funding shortfalls.

“One of the things that we’re doing is launching our first journal advancement campaign. We’ve been tasked with raising $40,000 by the end of the semester, which is a lot because journal editors have never had to do that before,” says Wilson-Smith.

Queen’s students have until the end of the week to decide which fees they’ll be paying and which ones they won’t.

The full impact of the student choice initiative should be known by the end of the month.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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