SPECIAL REPORT ⓘ
When IGNITE club presidents received a briefing by staff on Friday afternoon, they were told of several changes moving forward in how their groups would operate as part of the student union, sources told The Avro Post on Saturday.
Staff told the leaders of over two dozen clubs that students will not have to remain opted in to be able to join. However, club leadership, including presidents and vice presidents, will have to remain opted in to the Leadership and Development Fee to keep their positions.
This could also set a precedent for the those running in the IGNITE elections. It will not be clear until changes to the Constitution are ratified at the Oct. 16 Special Meeting of the Members, a document that includes requirements for candidates.
Another significant change from the previous year are the new rules around refreshments. Clubs are now limited to having refreshments at a club meeting once per month and are encouraged to “spend wisely”, according to one source speaking on the condition she remain anonymous.
Kristy Lam, a club president and a reporter for The Avro Post, confirmed the details relayed by sources.
The Student Choice Initiative, or SCI, was introduced by the Progressive Conservative provincial government earlier this year as part of a package of changes to student life including a 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition and slashes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, or OSAP.
Student unions, levy-funded campus publications and other post-secondary organizations consider the SCI a threat to their funding and existence. The province says the move gives the choice back to the students, among other reasons, as explained to The Post in an interview with an MPP.
The Canadian Federation of Students, partnered with the York Federation of Students, have engaged in what analysts consider a longshot lawsuit that argues the SCI should be rolled back. Before optional student fees, full-time students paid a mandatory fee to IGNITE that recently cost about $75.
IGNITE’s $11 million budget is split up among health and dental insurance for students, staffing, governance, events and more. It is unclear how much funding the student union will have to work with until numbers are released, should they choose to publicize them.
The changes to club policy and warnings about using funds wisely shows that the student union is preparing for different outcomes. Executive Director Ercolé Perrone told The Avro Post earlier this year that IGNITE, as with provincial counterparts, are preparing for nearly any funding scenario.
Correction: This article initially stated that IGNITE club presidents needed to remain opted in to all fees when, in fact, they just needed to remain opted in to the Leadership and Development Fee.