By Fatima Husain
Campus & community radio stations and student newspapers around Ontario campuses face a heightened threat of been axed in light of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s fee policy. Ironically named The Student Choice Initiative, if introduced, would allegedly ‘empower’ students to more easily ‘opt out’ of funding student organizations and clubs. Campus radio stations and student newspapers receive funding from levies derived from tuition fees.
This would translate into an unwarranted reversal of democratic student referendums, wherein students voted to fund services on campus – including radio and newspapers. Many campus stations rely on the fees for as much as 90% of an annual budget to cover fixed costs including royalty payments, emergency broadcasting infrastructure, towers and transmission and more.
Besides being a beacon of democratic voices on Ontario campuses, campus media employ over 150 students and young people, and around 3500 volunteers each academic year.
In a recent survey, it was found that around one-fifth of Canadians listen to campus or community radio regularly or occasionally. And those who listen are more than double as active in community activism compared to those who are not involved at all. Often student campus media is the only source of information directly related to campus affairs.
Over the years, campus radio has played a significant role in the development of notable figures including former premier David Crombie, journalist Avis Favaro and media personality George Stroumboulopoulous – to name a few.
If put into effect, the policy will affect 19 campus/ community radio stations throughout the province, with growing fears of some going off air, altogether.
Campus radio stations across Ontario, have jointly issued an urgent appeal and will be joining students across for a province-wide walk out to protest “the Ford government’s attack on student democracy”.
The province-wide student walk out is scheduled to take place - Wednesday, March 20th across college and university campuses across Ontario. Click here to find your campus action.
Students are encouraged to walk out of their classrooms to protest the provincial government’s plan to defund students’ unions and campus media and cut over $600 million in OSAP funding.
Student demands include: providing more grants not loans, eliminating tuition fees for all students, increasing public funding for public education, protecting students’ independent voices and defending the right to organize.
Join in the walk out and support the conversation using hashtag #DefendCampusRadio.