BREAKING: Student Choice Initiative Court Ruling

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Michael Beauchemin
Fri, 11/22/2019 - 11:45

This version has been updated as of 4 p.m. on Friday, November 22, 2019.

WATERLOO, ON – Friday, November 22, 2019 

On November 21, 2019, the Divisional Court of Ontario issued a ruling that strikes down the Student Choice Initiative on the basis that the provincial government did not have the statutory authority to infringe upon the Universities' and Colleges' autonomy. The same ruling also recognized that "there is no statutory authority authorizing... the Minister [of Colleges and Universities] to interfere in the internal affairs of... student associations." Please note, the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association was not a party in this lawsuit. 

The Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) would first like to confirm for students that the optional fee payment period will remain as they expect for next term. The optional fee payment period began on Monday, November 18 and will continue through Thursday, December 12. University of Waterloo undergraduate students will continue to have the option to opt-out online through Quest for their winter term fees. 

While we do not wish to speculate on the provincial government response to this ruling, we remain in favour of protecting the student experience through fees that are essential to holding the University accountable to students and bringing student needs forward to government and University decision-makers. WUSA supports the continued employment of a comprehensive, centralized, online opt-out system through Quest for ancillary fees determined to be optional by your elected Students' Council or referenda. 

Everything we do continues to be through a democratic process that puts the power in students' hands. Prior to SCI, students decided which fees should be mandatory or optional through our elected student government and through referenda. SCI was implemented without a thorough consultation of students on what we would consider mandatory or optional, and instead gave that discretion to an external body. We welcome a return to the democratic process which has always determined our fees, and puts the power to make these decisions back in students’ hands. 

While there is no longer a government regulation in place, the WUSA Students’ Council oversees and has ultimate approval over all undergraduate ancillary fees administered by student groups. WUSA appoints undergraduate representatives to serve on the Student Services Advistory Committee (SSAC) which determines fees governed under the university's fees protocol (i.e. Student Services Fees). We encourage students to exercise their power by running for a student leadership position, as nominations are open until January 23. 

We will continue to monitor the situation and share updates as they become available. We encourage those with comments to share them with their Councilors and direct any question to WUSA Executives.