Eli Ridder | Analysis
The Student Choice Initiative, or SCI, was announced by the Ontario government on Jan. 17, allowing students as of fall 2019 to make the choice on how to spend their money for some campus programs and services, though it does not make health and safety funding optional.
After this announcement, student unions, campus publications and certain national and provincial groups were outraged because they say the optional student fees threatens their existence and the services they offer on campus.
It is a possibility that some of those angered by the province’s decision could find themselves without funding at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, but it is hard to know for sure at this point, because The Avro Post does not have access to the tools for student polling.
Right now, as far as we know at this time, the student union does not have many details from Queen’s Park on how exactly the SCI will be carried out. The over $10 million budget of IGNITE could be impacted if students opt-out of part of their $75 fee paid out to the union.
At a Board of Directors meeting in February, the elected student representatives agreed to an unprecedented process where the IGNITE executive director will return to the decision-making body with a new fiscal budget for the next year once the province outlines exactly how the SCI will work.
At that meeting, the directors approved an initial fiscal budget for the next 2019-2020 school year, but that will all change later on once more is known.
Margarita Bader, the only Board member to respond to inquires from The Avro Post, said that there has not been any further details given to the student union from the province.
So far, what IGNITE has broken down the budget by categories which will be presented to students come student fee payment time with the assistance of the Board chair — Shyan Shakil, — and executives, Bader explained.
Bader, who ran in an unsuccessful bid for IGNITE president earlier this year, said the categories were based on what the government has provided so far. She gave the example of a category such as student clubs, revealing that the optional fees could get so specific that it potentially could be on a club-by-club basis.
“Anything that is not mandatory, students now have a choice with,” she explained. We know that “essential” services include the healthcare-related programs, which will remain funded. IGNITE spends about $6 million per year on what will remain as mandatory initiatives.
“I don’t have the finalized list or anything to share [at the moment],” Bader told The Avro Post, due to it being a fluid situation. The third year Humber student explained that “the person who would have the latest info would be Monica”, referencing President Monica Khosla, who was re-elected on Mar. 1.
“From my understanding, there is no way for us to know what kind of budget IGNITE will have until students make those choices,” Bader explained, noting the attendance of several director-elects at Board meetings who will be making the big decisions come this summer and fall around the operating budget.
Students do not make the student fee payments until the summer, thus, the amount of money that the student union will receive is very much unknown at this point.
There are still many questions going unanswered such as if a club does not receive the amount of necessary funding, will they be deratified by IGNITE and lose recognition, or will they have a chance to be added to the optional fees list the next year?
The Avro Post is working hard to clarify these answers. However, most of the IGNITE executives and Board directors have been silent on details.
Most of this is because they do not know how the SCI will work themselves due to the scarcity of information and instruction handed down by the government.
At the Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, students will be able to ask questions of all the executives and potentially members of the Board of Directors. The Avro Post will be there.
Image of checklist from Pexels files.