Thunder Bay

Lakehead University Student Union cutting programs due to loss of funding

The Lakehead University Student Union is cutting programs and staff due to students opting-out of paying fees deemed non-essential.

Province's Student Choice Initiative gives students ability to opt-out of paying fees deemed non-essential

The Lakehead University Student Union is cutting staff and programs due to the Student Choice Initiative, which allows students to opt-out of paying fees deemed non-essential. (supplied)

The Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU) is cutting programs and staff due to students opting-out of paying fees deemed non-essential.

The province's Student Choice Initiative came into effect this year, and gave students at Ontario's post-secondary institutions the ability to opt-out of certain fees. In the case of LUSU, that's resulted in a loss of about 65 per cent of its budget, which, in previous years, was about $5 million.

Masoud Manzouri, LUSU president, said the student union runs six student centres on the Thunder Bay campus: the Multicultural Centre, food bank, Aboriginal Awareness Centre, Pride Central, Gender Equity Centre, and the Sustainability Initiative.

"This year, we have to shut down one of the centres," he said. "The Sustainability Initiatives, we had to shut down that centre, which had one coordinator and two student assistants."

"And all the other centres, the coordinators were full-time, now they are part-time."

The Student Choice Initiative is also affecting student clubs, Manzouri said. In the past, LUSU would provide $200 in annual funding to all student clubs; however, that funding has been eliminated.

He said when all added up, the non-essential fees amount to less than $200 per student annually.

As for the future, Manzouri said LUSU is working with Lakehead administration to have the fees needed to fully fund its six student centres deemed essential.

"We think those services should fall under health and wellness, and be mandatory," he said. "Moving forward to next year, we're working on those, and also working with all student unions across the province to see how they've been working with their senior admin, and share our ideas."

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