Campus radio applauds court decision quashing Student Choice Initiative

CILU 102.7 FM in Thunder Bay was one of 19 campus stations impacted by the Ontario government's Student Choice Initiative, allowing students to opt out of non-essential student services. (CILU Radio)

The National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA) is applauding this week’s court decision effectively killing an Ontario government measure allowing post-secondary students to opt out of student services deemed non-essential, including student media.

The Student Choice Initiative (SCI), introduced this past fall, resulted in a significant loss of funding for 19 Ontario campus stations, as well as campus newspapers, and other student services.

Thursday’s Ontario Divisional Court ruling was brought about by a legal challenge from the Canadian Federation of Students and York Federation of Students, who argued that the measure unfairly targeted student unions.

“The Student Choice Initiative has had a destructive impact on campus stations across
Ontario leading to loss of operating funds and lay-offs,” said Barry Rooke, NCRA/ANREC Executive Director, in a release. “The SCI directly interfered with our campus stations’ ability to conduct the normal activities of supporting and training students across the province.”

Tiina Flank, station manager at CILU-FM, the campus station at Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University, said the SCI’s impact on LU Radio has been devastating, and “crippled” its capacity to adequately staff up heading into 2020.

“The student levy makes up 60% of our operating budget and we lost close to 70% thanks to the SCI. Since we didn’t even receive any student levy funding until half-way through our fiscal year, the financial uncertainty made staffing the organization nearly impossible,” said Flank. “We are highly reassured by this decision, and hope that with the support of the Lakehead University students and the community we can recover and continue providing training and a voice to the community.”

NCRA says the loss of student levy funding led many of its member stations to decrease their educational and vocational training to students.


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