Unsigned: Change in ancillary fees could put funding in jeopardy

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Graphic by Lena Yang / File Photo

Recently, the Ontario government under Doug Ford decided on a policy that will allow university students to opt-out of various ancillary fees. Ancillary fees are charges paid by students for administrative services, materials and activities that are separate from tuition fees alone. These ancillary fees range in cost and go towards various things, such as funding for the Athletic Complex, the Students’ Union and more. 

With these fees, everyone who attends Laurier as an undergraduate student pays a small ancillary fee of approximately $10 that goes directly to funding for The Cord’s parent organization, Wilfrid Laurier Student Publications [WLUSP]. Students don’t have the option to opt-out yet, but Ford’s changes have the potential to affect our funding very shortly.

This recent change in ancillary fees taxes each individual institution with the responsibility of deciding which club fees are deemed essential and which fees students can choose to opt-out of. 

That being said, The Cord’s funding in the next few years could change drastically, possibly forcing our publication to alter how we operate. Although here at The Cord we believe that WLUSP should be deemed an essential service, it is ultimately not up to us to decide. This potential change in our funding would be a challenge, but nonetheless can be faced. 

Today more than ever, student journalism is crucial. We are students working to report on the happenings of the Laurier community for other students. We are all aspiring journalists and can all agree that our time at The Cord and the skills we have learned are invaluable, and will undoubtedly help us after our time at Laurier. 

A change in funding could mean many things for The Cord — one major component could be a change in how we compensate our staff that put in hours of work each week. In this way, The Cord would become largely volunteer based, and the quality of our publication and reporting may be at stake. 

Regardless of our funding’s future, The Cord will remain inclusive, observant and transparent. But to guarantee we can continue to do our job to serve the Laurier community to the best of our abilities, we can only hope that our funding will be deemed essential by Laurier and our community.

For much of the student body, The Cord is the primary news source. With cuts to funding, our publication would suffer, good reporting would no longer be guaranteed and students would miss out on important campus information. 

Also, our publication gives exposure to local businesses more than other media sources do. This is due to the funding and manpower we are afforded — something that other local newspapers such as The Record and Waterloo Chronicle have don’t have enough of, comparatively. 

If WLUSP were to be deemed non-essential, not only would funding be lost, but accountability and transparency would be reduced within Laurier.

For example, The Cord is the best source for keeping up to date with the Students’ Union elections. Our funding enables us to keep the student body informed, and if this were compromised, the transparency we provide would be compromised alongside it.

Recently at Ryerson, their student newspaper, The Eyeopener, unveiled a scandal where their Students’ Union had allegedly spent over $250 000 worth of funding. The Eyeopener and this breaking story are a testimony to the way in which student publications benefit their readership and their school as a whole. If student media becomes underfunded, transparency within universities and campuses is threatened.

Although the future of WLUSP and The Cord is currently uncertain, we believe strongly in our mandate and we strive each week to provide the Laurier community with relevant news and information.

Approximately eight years ago, WLUSP’s funding was evaluated through a referendum question. At the time, students voted to keep WLUSP’s ancillary fee permanent and considered essential. Students believed in the necessity of our work then, and we hope that still holds to be true. 

Regardless of our funding’s future, The Cord will remain inclusive, observant and transparent. But to guarantee we can continue to do our job to serve the Laurier community to the best of our abilities, we can only hope that our funding will be deemed essential by Laurier and our community. 

Leave a Reply