The University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) has joined 75 other student unions from across Canada to collectively pen a letter of complaint to the Ford government.
The letter addressed to Premier Doug Ford and Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister for training, colleges and universities, describes the leadership of the student unions’ dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to give students the option to opt-out of student union fees.
The opting-out of ancillary fees is one of three parts of the Progressive Conservative government’s policy change. The others are a 10% reduction in tuition fees for domestic students beginning in the 2019/2020 semester, and a restructuring of OSAP
The UWSA President, Jeremiah Bowers, states in a memo to students, “the announced changes regarding OSAP, tuition and ancillary fees (non-tuition fees) raise red flags for our students and their families. We firmly believe it lacked proper consultation with students and was a step backwards.”
“We are student leaders. We have one job in this role, and that’s to listen to students. We talk to hundreds of students every week and we take action to try to help them,” the letter declares. “When their tuition is too high and they need a second job to pay for rent, we listen. When they have a mental health concern and need help, we listen. When they want to create a club for LGBTQ+ advocacy on campus, we listen. It’s an amazing process of students talking to students, and it’s so important to the functioning framework of campuses across our country.”
The letter reminds the government that elections and referendums are held to determine student directives on programs and services provided by the student unions while claiming the government’s so-called Student Choice Initiative “assumes that students don’t have the choice in how their student fees are spent.”
The University of Windsor Graduate Students Society (GSS) and Organization of Part-Time University Students (OPUS) have also signed the letter.
“I think the government needs to stop saying they are for the people. They don’t consult the people,” says Nour Alideeb, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) in Ontario. “If you’re going to claim something you should live by that and remember in four years your time is going to come up and students are going to remember this and we go out and vote and we aren’t apathetic. They picked a fight with the wrong people.”
“I think they need to find that unity within their campus and pull people together, “says Alideeb. “It’s not just one thing that impacts an individual student it is all of us or none of us. I think if we don’t play that role where we are coming together we will actually see the government take advantage of us.”
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