Sudbury

Laurentian University groups prepare for impact of student fee opt-outs

Ontario students are now choosing which student fees they want to pay and that has campus newspapers and radio stations worried they could be on the chopping block.

New policy this year allows students to choose which student fees they want to pay

Campus media groups, like Laurentian's CKLU radio station, are bracing themselves for bad news this fall after new legislation allows students to opt in or out of certain fees. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Ontario students are now choosing which student fees they want to pay and that has campus newspapers and radio stations worried they could be on the chopping block.

In January, the Ford Progressive Conservative government announced that students are able to opt out of certain fees that fund campus groups, student newspapers and clubs.

At Laurentian University in Sudbury, both the campus radio station and paper are preparing for the worst.

Ashley Thomson, who is on the board of directors for the Laurentian student newspaper The Lambda, says he's preparing for less money to operate the paper.

"What I expect to happen is that The Lambda, if it publishes at all, and I hope it will, will publish in an online version," he said.

"It's not unheard of to go that way but it's going to be tougher to reach an audience, I think."

Thomson has been on the board of directors for 20 years and says this is the first time the future of the publication has been in jeopardy.

"Let's face it: it's pretty expensive now to become a student," he said. "Tuition fees are higher and a lot of students have to work part time jobs just to make it. The result of that is they're pretty narrowed in their focus and getting excited about student associations isn't one of them."

Rob Straughan, general manager of the campus radio station CKLU, says it will be even more important to educate students on the value of campus media.

"The problem is, this has come down so quickly," he said. "Being implemented immediately, it's the type of thing where it's going to take a grassroots campaign over the years."

Rob Straughan is the general manager of CKLU. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Straughan says he's not sure how many students will opt out of paying certain student fees, but he anticipates a new source of funding will have to be found to make up for the shortfall.

"We're not sure what we'll be getting … come September," he said. "We're already cutting some staff starting this summer so trying to cut our expenses down. It's not good news all around but we're just trying to scratch and claw and figure out how we're going to get through this coming school year so we can get a long term plan."

With files from Matthew Pierce

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.