Windsor

Ontario campus radio stations ask government to make their fees mandatory

Campus radio stations across Ontario — including Windsor's CJAM — are petitioning the provincial government to make the fees that fund their operations mandatory for students.

Tories announced plan to let students opt out of most ancillary fees in January

Campus radio stations across Ontario are concerned for their future now that the fees that fund them will be considered optional. (Shutterstock/DmitriMaruta)

Campus radio stations across Ontario — including Windsor's CJAM — are petitioning the provincial government to make the fees that fund their operations mandatory for students.

In January, the provincial government announced its intent to allow students to opt out of most ancillary fees, with the exception of walksafe programs, health and counselling, athletics, recreation, academic support — and as it was later clarified, transit passes.

Campus radio stations — including Windsor's CJAM-FM, which receives $5 from every full-time undergraduate student per semester — want to be added to that list.

"A lot of organizations on campus are facing pretty intense jeopardy in terms of being unsure of how much money they would receive from students," explained station manager Brady Holek, noting that campus radio stations in the province employ 150 staff and have 3,500 volunteers.

"We do fit in with a lot of what has been deemed essential," he said, mentioning that his station produces multiple sports programs. "We also offer a ton of services that are directly linked with academics."

When asked why students would want to opt out of an "essential" service, Holek said some students would naturally want to save money if given the chance.

Not only that, he points to how a quarter of students each year are entering their first year, who might not realize what services are provided until later on.

Holek said the ability to opt out of his station's fee could be "devastating" for the station, which currently employs two full-time and one part-time staff.

"We would lose jobs, we would lose the ability to provide some of the services that we currently do for students," he said.

In association with the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA), CJAM and other campus stations in Ontario are circulating a petition asking for Queen's Park to "deem campus radio stations an essential fee under the Student Choice Initiative."

Windsor West NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky has offered to introduce the petition in the legislature.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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