Uncertainty on Student Choice Initiative

By: Imprint

The future of the Student Choice Initiative at UW is more uncertain than ever. 

In early December the Ontario government appealed the Divisional Court ruling on the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) that was declared “unlawful”.

“At this point, we are in discussions with the student associations about next semester, and will continue to work collaboratively with them moving forward,” Matthew Grant, director of  Media Relations, UW, said.

The implementation of the SCI, a directive that allowed postsecondary students to opt-out of certain incidental fees, was challenged by the Canadian Federation of Students- Ontario (CFS-O) and the York Federation of Students (YFS). The fees, more often than not, are meant for on-campus groups like student unions, newspapers, food banks, and others. 

The policy was enacted for the academic year 2019-2020 at all postsecondary institutions in Ontario.

“Last semester, the University gave students a choice on certain fees, as per the government’s initiative. We are aware of the recent court decision related to SCI and continue to monitor the situation, including the Government of Ontario’s decision to appeal,” Grant said.

The court overturned the SCI because the government had overstepped its authority and was interfering with the autonomy of universities and student unions. The government, however, argued that it had the authority to attach conditions to the funding given to public colleges and universities and has applied for leave to appeal, but it is yet to be granted. 

“The University of Waterloo continues to follow the progression of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) and to work with campus stakeholders as things change,” Grant said. There were two intervenors in court: the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU), supporting the CFS-O and the YFS, and B’Nai Brith of Canada League for Human Rights, supporting the government. 


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