A pair of bylaw amendments up for consideration at a Special Meeting of the Members in January may be altered at the last Board of Directors meeting before it goes before students due to the vague status of the Student Choice Initiative, which sits in legal limbo while the provincial government aims to appeal a ruling that struck the optional student fees down.
The provincial division of the Canadian Federation of Students and York University’s student union marked a unexpected legal win over the Progressive Conservative government on Nov. 21 that saw the SCI struck down after the Ontario Divisional Court found it “unlawful”, according to the groups involved in the case.
Two bylaw amendments are related to the SCI, an initiative first unveiled by the post-secondary education minister in January 2019. One amends the classification of membership in the student union to add a tertiary category for those that opted into IGNITE’s Enhanced Student Experience Fees — though it is unclear if a student would have had to opt in to all or just one to be included.
A second amendment is less specific but aims to bring clarity to the SCI’s impact. It reads: “Mandatory and optional fees clearly defined” — a mission statement that puts in stone what officials said would be taking place in the coming year. Ahead of the fall semester, when the optional student fees were implemented, IGNITE was quieter than their counterparts on the SCI.
There is a final Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 15 ahead of the Special Meeting. If the amendments are to change it would be at these meetings. Is it likely, however, that any changes would take place? That depends on the stance of the directors and the student union as a whole on the SCI’s legal status.
When the Student Choice Initiative was first repealed, many student unions as well as campus publications and other post-secondary groups reacted positively to the news, as it would bring back fees to mandatory status and ensure continued funding. However, IGNITE was silent, saying they would await the provincial government’s response to the ruling.
But even when, in early December, the government under Premier Doug Ford filed a notice of appeal in an attempt to overturn the SCI ruling, IGNITE still did no give any formal response. The Avro Post attempted to get comment from officials at the student union but no response is likely as the publication was informed in October IGNITE would ignore any requests from its student journalists until it acquired a faculty advisor.