This year is the first year that Ontario using it’s Student Choice Initiative. This initiative requires that student union fees be made entirely optional, with a few exceptions for specific programs such as those that fund things related to safety (such as “safe-walk” programs many campus based universities have). You would think that this would mean university student unions would be working extra hard to not only show that they’re providing value for the students, but to avoid doing anything that would seem to reduce student awareness of their activities. If for no other reason than to prevent giving the government more ammunition as to why they implemented the Student Choice Initiative in the first place.
Enter the Students’ Union of Guelph-Humber, known as IGNITE, which has decided that students have no right to be at their board meetings, nor even to view meeting minutes, with those rights being restricted to board members. This is a meeting of 10 students, who, together are directing what is typically an eleven million-dollar budget of primarily student fees.
Beyond the concerns that students of Guelph-Humber, my concern is that this type of action is exactly what supports the government in suggesting that Student Unions do not provide value for the money given. I’ve written about my concerns with the Student Choice Initiative in Ontario before, specifically how it encourages “free-riders” on the, often invisible, work that good students’ unions do in attempting to control tuition and adjusting university policy to be more cognizant of student needs. But there’s a difference between doing work that students don’t often see and preventing students from seeing your work.
The Voice has, in the past, had some difficult times with certain AUSU Councils, but no AUSU Council ever thought to completely ban students from attending the meetings. How IGNITE feels it can do that, especially during a time when the government already apparently has a bone to pick with students’ unions, strikes me as foolish for themselves, and irresponsible to the other students’ unions in Ontario, and I tend to think it would be wise if they made their concerns known to IGNITE, so as not to give the Ontario Government more fuel against them.
Meanwhile, in this issue, check out our feature interview with a flight attendant from Calgary, see how AU fits with her as she travels around the globe. Also, Wanda Waterman raises an interesting question about equality in the relationship. Can it happen given the power differentials of society? Does it need to? And with summer finally over, the AU events column has expanded once again, so plan out what you want to do over the next week, while checking out our latest scholarships, news, advice and, more.