It appears that exclusives offered in the past by IGNITE to those that paid a relevant optional fee as part of the Student Choice Initiative will not continue into the second semester, as an upcoming Real Talks event does not include any deals for those that decided to opt in and the fate of the SCI remains undecided in the courts.
Right from the beginning of the semester, IGNITE gave special offers to those that paid a certain fee. For Frosh, IGNITE initially offered a 50 per cent discount on tickets for those that opted in to the Social Programming Fee.
The student union also gave paint kits to the first 1,000 students who paid the Events and Opportunities Fee.
In October, IGNITE continued the new policy by offering a photo opportunity with the stars of MTV’s Wild ‘N Out show to students who paid the Social Programming Fee.
Other student unions have also used this policy to incentivize students to remain opted in to several fees that were made optional due to a mandate from the provincial government in January of 2019 that received backlash from student unions, campus publications and other post-secondary organizations funded by such fees.
IGNITE received some criticism after presenting exclusive offers only accessible by students who paid some of the “Enhanced Student Experience” fees as student union did not warn of such offers ahead of the fee payments, which for University of Guelph-Humber students started weeks before Frosh was announced.
In response to the backlash, IGNITE dropped the special offer from Frosh though utilized it for other events.
The Board of Directors also introduced a bylaw amendment in September that puts an emphasis on making the difference clear between optional and mandatory fees for the student body.
However, the most likely change influencing IGNITE’s decision to apparently drop opt in exclusives is the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision that found the Student Choice Initiative “unlawful”, handing a legal win to student organizations that argued the Progressive Conservative government was interfering in
The province is working to appeal the ruling, but for now it remains in place. Several student unions have already started to close their online portals for opting out, however, IGNITE said on the night the SCI was scrapped by the court that they would not respond until the government gave a statement. IGNITE has still not given any formal response.
With the SCI in “legal limbo”, as described by some Post sources, IGNITE appears to be scrapping the exclusives until the future of the initiative is decided by the court system. However, students are able to opt out of the Enhanced Student Experience Fees for this second semester, meaning IGNITE has decided to continue the status quo for now.
The legal situation of the initiative may also impact two of the bylaw amendments coming to the Special Meeting of the Members on Jan. 22 — a meeting where significant changes could be made to IGNITE’s governance — such as the end of executive elections — should full-time students vote to approve the proposals.
The Avro Post has reached out for comment from the student union, but a decision by IGNITE to cut off the publication in October means that there likely will not be a response.