Campus news outlets face uncertain futures without mandatory fees

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Without student newspapers, student activities, and accomplishments would go largely unrecognized. And yet, those very same publications won’t be able to operate for much longer without support from the communities they work so diligently to serve.
 
Earlier this month, several Ontario university newspapers, including The Journal, held a meeting to discuss strategies to mitigate this year’s potential funding losses for campus publications as a result of the provincial Student Choice Initiative.
 
As a result, this fall, Ontario post-secondary students will be able to opt out of the once-mandatory fees funding campus services, including The Journal.
 
The Student Choice Initiative is purportedly the Ontario government’s attempt to compensate for this year’s OSAP cuts—but saving a few hundred dollars at the expense of university clubs and initiatives hardly offsets thousands of dollars lost in grants and loans.
 
With the exception of some low-income students who benefit from the ability to opt out of “non-essential” school fees, many parents and students see the Student Choice Initiative as an easy way to save a few extra dollars. 
 
What they fail to recognize, however, is the harm the loss of their contributions will cause to the campus life they know. 
 
Campus newspapers provide an essential service to Ontario campuses: they alert university community members to news impacting them. They hold administrations and student politicians accountable for actions otherwise unscrutinized. They also serve as de facto journalism schools for students keen to pursue careers in the field.
 
Earlier this summer, The Journal reported that the University administration called the Student Choice Initiative “a significant risk” to the student experience at Queen’s. This would have gone unknown and unreported if not for the efforts of student journalists.
 
However, though Queen’s staff and students alike benefit from publications like The Journal, our University has made limited efforts to support the paper’s ability to operate.
 
At Ryerson, the university has helped to protect campus paper The Eyeopener from some financial detriment by helping to declare over $10 of the newspaper’s student fee mandatory under the provincial government’s tuition fee framework.
 
At Queen’s, the University has made no similar attempts, despite The Journal’s role in contributing to the archives and administrative action alike. 
 
Even if you don’t directly engage with your campus newspaper regularly, it has an important role to play in both campus life and student culture. 
 
Here at The Journal, we’re looking forward to another year of providing the Queen’s community with quality and timely reporting.
 
We can only hope that, in return, students will continue to pay our annual $8.96 fee—less than the price of a latte and a bagel—so we have the necessary resources to do so.
 
 

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