As some Ontario universities close opt-out portals, Queen’s keeps its site open

Student fees collected in fall term for full academic year

Queen’s has not closed its online opt-out portal.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

In the weeks following the Nov. 21 Divisional Court ruling that unanimously struck down the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), many Ontario universities began closing their online ancillary fee opt-out portals.

The University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and the University of Ottawa are some of the institutions that have closed their opt-out portals, which allowed students to opt out of fees deemed “non-essential” by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU).

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) and the York Federation of Students (YFS) filed an application for judicial review last May. After its November success, the Ontario government filed an appeal on Dec. 9, casting uncertainty around the status of the SCI.

 “Student fees for undergraduate and graduate and professional students were collected and transferred to student governments in the fall term for the full academic year,” Mark Erdman, Queen’s community relations and issues manager, wrote in a Dec. 19 statement to The Journal.

“We remain in constant communication with other student unions throughout the province to share information and provide guidance and insight to aid in the uncertainty,” the AMS wrote in a statement to The Journal.

According to the AMS, there is still uncertainty surrounding the court decisions and subsequent appeal, as the SCI could return. “We’re preparing for all outcomes to give our successors all of the tools they need to successfully maneuver a complex number of scenarios.”

The AMS also hopes to restructure a way to allow certain jobs and experiential learning opportunities to return, the statement said.

“We aim to build the AMS in a sustainable way that further protects and enhances the student experience, while ensuring that students can get the opportunities and financial assistance.”

Similarly, the President’s Caucus is briefed on the matter and more information will be released on reverting back to having mandatory fees, the email stated.

Kayla Weiler, national executive representative for the CFS-O, told The Journal that while their legal team works with the Court of Appeal, the organization itself will continue to advocate for students.

“If the appeal is successful, that changes things, but it doesn’t change the work that we do and the fact that we’ll continue to tell students that their membership is really important,” she said. “We’re waiting to see how the appeal goes before we think of future strategy.”

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