Laurentian University groups prepare for impact of student fee opt-outs
New policy this year allows students to choose which student fees they want to pay
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."
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