What is the Student Choice Initiative?

The Student Choice Initiative is a program that was announced on January 17th, 2019 by the Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities - Merrilee Fullerton. This initiative gives students the option to opt out of certain fees that were previously a mandatory part of their tuition.

What are “essential” and “non-essential” fees?

Ancillary fees, which are administrative costs that students pay on top of tuition, have now been broken down and classified as “essential” or “non-essential” fees, as outlined by the government. As stated in the Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines, compulsory services include:

  • Athletics and Recreation

  • Career Services

  • Student Buildings

  • Health and Counselling

  • Academic Support

  • Student ID Cards

  • Student Achievement and Records

  • Financial Aid Offices

  • Campus Safety Programs

These are the services that students will be unable to opt out of. Students will be given the opportunity to opt out of any programming that does not match this criteria.

How does this effect Winters College Council (WCC)?

Winters College Council provides a number of services to our students that have been deemed non-essential. Some of these include career services, academic supports, and social networking events. Unfortunately, the institutions we belong to, both governmental and academic, do not consider arts-related careers or education “essential.”

A few career-building opportunities that we offer are supported by the Eleanor Winters Art Gallery (EWAG) and the Winters Free Press (WFP or The Artichoke). Both of these services are essential to the development of a multitude of careers within the arts such as:

  • Art curation

  • Displaying work in a gallery setting

  • Arts management

  • Event planning

  • Media and advertising

  • Graphic design

  • Design editing

  • Editing academic and creative works of writing

Some of the skills that are developed through these services include:

  • Managing a budget/financial management

  • Installing art work in a gallery setting

  • Curating installations according to a vision

  • Social media outreach and promotion

  • Developing interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills

  • Enhanced leadership and collaboration

  • Increased knowledge of campus resources

  • Development of effective time and workflow management skills

  • Event planning and management

  • Project planning

  • Communicating with stakeholders

  • Developing and sticking to timelines

  • Providing on-site supervision and trouble-shooting

  • Ability to identify and articulate one’s own learning

  • Development of independence and self-reliance

A number of proposed academic supports, through workshops and events, have also been classified as non-essential. Some of these offered topics of support include:

  • How to do your taxes as a freelance artist

  • Building networking skills

  • How to write a resume

  • Public speaking

  • How to pitch yourself and your work

  • How to create a budget

  • How to use Google Apps

  • Arts management

A variety of social events that we offer are also included in this non-essential fee, such as:

  • Karaoke events

  • Acoustic events

  • Band Nights

  • Trivia events

  • Game Nights

  • Themed Pub Nights

  • Spoken Word/Poetry events

  • Movie Nights

  • Drag events

  • Montreal trip

  • Year-end Formal

What can we do to fight against this?

On May 29, 2019 the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) filed a legal challenge against the Ford government, specifically the Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, citing lack of legal authority and bad faith when dealing with post-secondary student affairs. To support this cause and learn about updates as they happen, follow the CFS and York’s student government chapter, the YFS on Instagram at @cfson and @yfslocal68 respectively.

You can also stay opted in to other levy-funded organizations on campus and show up to events! This includes other student governments like ours, as well as other partners across campus, such as: Vibe 105 (@vibe105to), the Art Gallery of York University (@a_g_y_u), the Creative Arts Student Association (@casa.yorku), the Excalibur (@excalweb), and more.

Finally, contact your local and provincial government and make it known that you are against the Student Choice Initiative! You can start with Merrilee Fullerton, the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities.


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Tel: 613-599-300