BY DYLAN CAREY
When Doug Ford announced that college students would be able to opt-out of some fees, student unions were worried they wouldn’t have enough money to run their programs. But what really happened?
“One of the major things, I think, that every student union has been seeing is there could be a lot of money at risk here with regards to student fees,” said the President of the Sheridan Student Union (SSU), Ben LeBlanc.
In addition to the concerns of student unions, students were anxious that events and services would be scaled back. “I was really worried when I heard about the changes. My friends and I really like stuff like trivia night and we didn’t know if we’d be able to do that anymore,” Ranish Verma, a second-year nursing student at the Davis campus, said.
The Ford government’s official announcement stated that the reason for the changes was to “keep more money in the pockets of Ontario students and families.” In an updated statement to the Sheridan Sun, the Ford government said that the changes were made to ensure that “future students can access a high-quality education and contribute to Ontario’s future success.”
Thankfully for students and student unions, the changes seem to have had little to no effect on life around campus. According to SSU president Ben LeBlanc, “Our budget is about 95 to 100 percent similar to last year. We made a couple small changes here and there, but nothing that should impact the student experience on the surface.” LeBlanc hopes that the addition of a Booster Juice on campus will help offset lost revenue from fees.
This sentiment was echoed by Sheldon Coombs, president of the Mohawk Students Association, who stated that while they expect a reduction in fee revenue, money has been moved around so student life isn’t affected.
The Centennial College Student Association Incorporated was also contacted for comment, but the president was not available. However, its website says that the Association expects a 75% opt-in rate this year, but makes no mention of how this reduction will affect student life.
It’s hard to determine at this point the long-term impact of the fee changes, but it looks like Ontario college student unions seem to be finding ways to make do with less revenue.