This fall, a new provincial mandate called the "Student Choice Initiative" changed the way universities and their respective student societies operate, all across Ontario. The ChooseUofT campaign was our response.
Student fees that were once included as a part of our tuition were reclassified, with all fees categorized as being either "essential" or "non-essential". All fees defined as "non-essential" were presented to students across Ontario as optional when paying tuition, which meant that everything on campus pertaining to clubs, orientation, service groups, the student press, events, and more, were in danger.
On July 15th, incidental fees were made available for viewing on ACORN, and students had a choice. We could either remain opted-in, thereby supporting the various student organizations on our campus that work to support us, or we could opt-out, putting the very existence of many of these groups at risk.
In November of 2019, the Divisional Court of Ontario ruled in favour of student organizations by striking down the Student Choice Initiative. Soon after this court decision, the University of Toronto suspended its opt-out portal on ACORN, removing the option for students to choose certain incidental fees.
While the Student Choice Initiative may be gone for now, many student groups were deeply impacted during the fall of 2019, and we'd like to thank every student at the University of Toronto who decided to Choose UofT this fall. You were the ones who protected our vibrant campus community. After surviving a deliberately destructive policy agenda, this extra- and co-curricular community is still standing because of you.
What Was At Stake?
Societies that represent you are struggling to plan for the year ahead without a firm budget.
Levies are a main funding source for clubs, and if we opt-out, many clubs will stop being able to run
The student press, often funded entirely by levies, is in serious danger of going underwater.
Important levy organizations which provide essential services to students at UofT are at risk.
Programs supporting low-income students, as well as equity services, will suffer severe blows.
Programming that welcomes new students to our campus are being hit the hardest.
Who We Are
This campaign is a collaborative effort that began in May 2019, when student leaders from all the student societies at the University of Toronto came together and agreed that a response to the Student Choice Initiative was needed. Two months and a dozen planning committee meetings later, this campaign slowly but surely developed, with the campaign's launch coming just in time for the opt-out period to begin.
Choose UofT was the result of weekly meetings between student representatives, with voices heard from every college and faculty society on campus. We believe it's one of the more significant collaborations in the history of our campus community, and we're proud to be able to present you with the info you see here.
This campaign serves as an example of what can happen when we all come together to support our campus community. It also serves as a detailed compendium of student activity information and resources, and we hope that it can help new and returning students learn more about what's happening on campus and where, as well as how to get involved, who to reach out to, and why they should in the first place.
We as students have the potential to protect our campus community and student life ourselves. Thank you for visiting our website, and please reach out to us at the contact information below if you have any questions.
Financial Barriers & OSAP
The ChooseUofT campaign team is aware that because of significant cuts to OSAP, as well as broader financial situations impacting students, there were barriers for some students when deciding to remain opted-in. Many of our team members are also recipients of OSAP, and opting out as a matter of necessity was discussed and considered at length while organizing this campaign.
Our campaign exists for a simple reason: to encourage students on our campus to invest in their student life.
We completely understand that for some, opting-in was a hard choice to make, or wasn't a choice at all. This year has been difficult for many, and especially so for those who provide services to students most in need. This is why we encourage all those who are able to remain opted-in. When we Choose UofT, we'll be supporting our peers who may not be able to make that choice, and that is a critical pillar of this campaign.