On Friday, January 31st we sent a letter to the Premier requesting to meet with him regarding the Student Choice Initiative. Here’s what we had to say.
Dear Hon. Doug Ford and Hon. Merrilee Fullerton,
My name is Monica Khosla and I am the President of IGNITE, the student advocacy organization representing more than 28,000 Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber (UofGH) students.
In this role I have had the opportunity to fight for, educate and improve student life. As a person living with a physical disability, I ran in the IGNITE elections because I wanted to bring a voice to people just like me. I have hosted focus groups dedicated to addressing accessibility needs on campus and campaigned for the necessary changes. Being President has given me a platform to fight for others with disabilities, and many more, to improve our educational experience and livelihood. IGNITE has changed my life and continues to change the lives of so many others.
From providing students with the insurance benefits necessary to stay healthy to financial support making education more accessible, IGNITE offers our students a large and diverse range of services and opportunities. The decision to make students fees optional through the Student Choice Initiative shows your government’s clear inability to recognize that these services and programs are a lifeline for thousands of students. You’re putting thousands at risk and here’s the proof:
- Over 28,000 students are covered under our health & dental insurance plan
- Last semester alone, IGNITE provided $412,000 in bursaries to 550 students in financial need.
- Over 100 students are employed through IGNITE who are getting real-life working experience and building their skills for the workforce
- Almost 700 students use our annual tax clinic to have their income taxes filed for free, instead of paying for the service through a third party vendor
- We have served over 4200 healthy lunches to students since Fall 2018 through our pay-what-you-can soup bar
- We dedicate $50,000 each year to our Financial Relief Program, which directly helps students going through emergency situations such as:
- Abusive relationships
- Unlawful tenant eviction
- We provided over 9,000 complimentary emergency menstrual kits to students
- We advocate for real change on campus:
- Addressing student mental health through our achievement of a Fall Reading Week
- Improving accessibility on campus
- Providing students with guidance on how they can address problems in their educational experience
- Campaigning for social justice issues on campus that impact students
As you can tell from the list above, tons of services and programs are available to students on campus to better their life both in and out of the classroom. By making our fee optional, we will not receive the funding necessary to keep all of these services and programs alive, putting those that need it the most at risk.
You have stated that the Student Choice Initiative was created for the benefit of students, but the reality is that it removes our platform to make change in our educational experience. Being a student is about much more than just academics, it’s about laying the groundwork for our future.
I would like to meet with you in person to further educate you on the importance of student advocacy organizations and why your decision to make these fees optional is putting thousands of students and their futures at risk. This meeting would include myself and three Vice-Presidents representing students at each Humber and UofGH campus. I can be reached directly at the contact information provided below.
I look forward to hearing from you soon,
Tweet @fordnation and let him know how this initiative will affect you!