New optional tuition structure let students opt out of Queen’s services, many did

Optional tuition fees leads to students opting out of services
WATCH: Queen's University student government reacts to opt-out numbers for optional fees.

University students are just over a month into the school schedule and this year many had lower tuition, but some say the savings came at the cost of the student experience.

This year the provincial government initiated a measure to give students the ability to opt-out of many supplementary fees that were formerly included in tuition.

READ MORE: Fee opt-out a Doug Ford government attack on student unions, court hears

As a result, some student-run organizations have had to look elsewhere for funding.

“My entire summer was spent making sure everything doesn’t fall apart. We had to reorganize all of our policies and literally restructure everything,” said Auston Pierce, the President of Alma Mater Society at Queen’s University.

Queen’s student Nicholas Hagermen donated part of his scholarship to charity
Queen’s student Nicholas Hagermen donated part of his scholarship to charity

The campus food bank was listed on theĀ Student Ancillary Fee Slate as an optional fee of $2, a figure that William Greene, vice president of student affairs, said was opted-out of because many students didn’t use the service. Green says he’s concerned less fortunate students are being ignored.

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“The AMS food bank had a 20 per cent opt-out, and now we’re looking at fundraising and donations from students and alumni.”

“A lot of students are under financial stress, and many students can’t afford nutritious food, and the food bank is a way to make up for that,” Greene said.

And there were a host of other services impacted by students choosing to opt out of fees:

20 per cent of students opted-out of paying $7 for Campus Safety and Risk Management

20 per cent of students opted out of the $8 annual fee to support Canada’s 2nd oldest radio station, CRFC

25 per cent of students opted-out of the $9 fee to support the campus newspaper (The Journal)

AMS provided the opt-out numbers for these three organizations but would not disclose the remaining until the following week when they become official.

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

The Queen’s student government had been bracing for a much worse result.

“They are much better than what we were expecting because I think students realized the benefit of paying into these organizations,” Pierce said.

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Pierce’s sentiment was echoed by many students who spoke with Global News on Friday.

“I think it’s important to opt-in to student fees. I think it adds to the student experience,” Nicole Costa said.

“I choose to opt-in for all of the fees because a large portion of how I pay for school comes from scholarship, so I personally want to give back, but I know it’s not possible for all students,” Autumn Wallace said.

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

Accessibility support fees now optional on some campuses
Accessibility support fees now optional on some campuses

According to the Queen’s University Student Ancillary Fee list, it would cost each student $185 to opt-in to all fees.