PODCAST SPECIAL: Student Groups Push Back Against Student Choice Initiative

Nothing sours your journalistic objectivity more than being emotionally invested in the story, but that’s the way it is for proposed changes to post-secondary funding called the Student Choice Initiative. The move might take away important funding for campus groups, and it might take away funding for an important factor to Guelph Politico‘s success.

In case you don’t know, the Guelph Politicast is recorded at CFRU, which receives substantial funding from student fees collected by the University of Guelph. That could change if the Student Choice Initiative from the Provincial government is approved. The measure will allow undergrad students to opt out of all student fees save for athletics and recreation, thus putting a lot of campus groups at risk for losing as much as 50 per cent of their current funding.

That includes CFRU. I also co-host two radio shows on CFRU, one of which features interviews with local councillors, Members of Parliament, and Members of Provincial Parliament. It’s the only venue of its kind in Guelph for long-form interviews with these important newsmakers.

More than that, I got my start at The Ontarion, the U of G’s independent student newspaper. If I had not wondered in there to volunteer one Thursday evening on a whim, then it’s quite possible that you would not be reading this right now. There would be no Guelph Politico.

I say this because the anecdotes and advocacy about “freedom of choice” that will surely come out of the provincial ministries will not take into account the freedom of discovery. They will not take into account how one choice can change your life and lay out a whole new path for you to consider. Who might be robbed of their chance to discover who they might really be because there was no one to guide them at our university and college campuses?

This goes not just for the media, but for any of the numerous opportunities provided by student groups on campus. Student government is often a gateway to careers in politics, environmental and human rights groups create tomorrow’s activists and advocates, and whole communities are formed and allies created through various student-run ethnic, religious, and gender-based groups.

But now the question must be asked: Can they survive Doug Ford, and what happens if they can’t? This past Monday, CFRU hosted a live panel in the University Centre courtyard to try and answer those questions.

Moderated by CFRU’s Marketing & Outreach Co-ordinator Andrea Patehviri and Volunteer & Mobile Studio Co-ordinator Jenny Mitchell, the panel also features Rachel Schenk Martin of the Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (GRD-GED); Natalie Euale, the Co-ordinator of Organizational and Policy Development of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group; and, VP External of the Central Student Association Kayla Weiler.

The following is a podcast special, a recording of this panel hosted by CFRU and hopefully a warning about what stands to be lost if the Student Choice Initiative goes forward.

So what happens next? The Ontario Legislature returns on Tuesday, so stay tuned.

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