We The Students – Student Choice Initiative

On January 17, 2019, Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, announced a series of proposed changes to OSAP funding, university tuition fees, and student ancillary fees.

This announcement included:

  • A guaranteed 4 per cent cut in institutional funding;
  • A reduction in non-repayable grants and an increase in student loans;
  • An attack on students’ unions ability to represent and service their members;
  • The elimination of the 6-month grace period for loan repayment.

News coverage:

Students’ unions serve students in a number of significant ways, including:

  • Coordinating health and dental insurance plans;
  • Providing transit passes for students;
  • Running essential support services such as peer support, equity centres (e.g Pride centres), sexual violence support centres, food banks, etc.;
  • Providing academic support and advocacy services;
  • Creating volunteer and job opportunities for students;
  • Operating non-profit commercial services, such as book stores, restaurants, cafes and food services.

What does this mean for SOGS? : Graduate students will be able to opt out of any non-essential ancillary fee, which includes SOGS membership dues. 

SOGS membership dues fund:

  • Administration of the health/dental plan and the LTC bus pass program;
  • Advocacy initiatives on and off-campus;
  • Awards – Thesis Completion Fund, Peggy Collins Memorial Award;
  • Bursaries each term for Canadian and international students;
  • Committees;
  • Commissioners stipend for the Accessibility, Indigenous, Pride, and Women’s Concerns Commissioners;
  • Elected executive stipend;
  • Elected commissioner stipends;
  • Emergency Loan program for graduate students;
  • GradCast radio show (CHRW 94.9 – every Tuesday) – SOGS official radio show for graduate student by graduate students;
  • Graduate Student Teaching Awards;
  • Ombudsperson stipend;
  • Orientation week in September and January;
  • Operation of the SOGS office (includes staffing, supplies and building services/fees);
  • Non-TA foodbank;
  • Student Government (i.e., SOGS monthly council) and the departmental grants issued to each department annually for councillor attendance at monthly council (which helps pay for activities and events for graduate student associations across campus);
  • Scholarships: 125th Scholarship
  • Student advocacy and membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) (includes attendance at various CFS meetings provincially and the national AGM);
  • Subsidies: Travel, Childcare, and Professional Placement;
  • Subsidized social and cultural events for students (and their families) on and off-campus throughout the year;
  • Wellness week in October;

SOGS also provides students with:

  • A well-rounded campus life;
  • Academic and wellness supports;
  • Academic appeals advocacy;
  • Advocacy for minority students;
  • A voice with local government representatives;
  • Connections with campus stakeholders, departments, campus organizations, and the TA/Postdoc union (PSAC Local 610);
  • Infrastructure of support, both academic and financial;
  • New student orientation events which bring new students together, fostering a positive graduate student experience;
  • Representation at Western University with administration;
  • Social and community programming;
  • New international student outreach;
  • Services for visiting and exchange students;
  • Support for at-risk graduate students.

If you DO NOT agree with the recent changes to Ontario university education funding, join the cause and sign the CFS-ON letter being sent to Premier Doug Ford, MPP Dr. Merrilee Fullerton (Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities), and your local MPP. 

Sign the letter here.

In addition, consider signing the March For Students Rights postcards and letter to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario available in the SOGS office (MC room 8).


Opinion Pieces and Editorials:

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