The Student Choice Initiative is a piece of Provincial legislation that was passed in announced in January 2019. Its purpose is to change how fees are charged to college and university students across the province. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year all fees that are deemed “non-essential” will be assessed using an opt-out model. The Provincial Government has determined “essential” fees to be those that fall into the following categories: Athletics and Recreation, Career Services, Student Buildings, Health and Counselling, Academic Support, Student ID Cards, Student Achievement and Records, Financial Aid Offices, and Campus Safety Programs. This was announced alongside a 10% reduction in Ontario tuition. Four months after the Student Choice Initiative was announced the Provincial Government also announced changes to OSAP under which the average Queen’s student lost roughly half of their funding.
Previously, the Alma Mater Society and the various Faculty Societies across campus held annual referenda to determine what the fee slate would look like for the coming year. Fees needed to be renewed every three years to be charged, fee increases needed to be approved, and students knew whether or not a fee would be optional when they voted on in. Alma Mater Society and Faculty Society membership was mandatory. The fees from membership allowed the AMS and Faculty Societies to run their own elections, provide retail and support services, and to give a voice to students completely independently of any Government or the University Administration.
As of this year, all new fees passed by referendum will be assessed via an opt-out model, and Alma Mater Society and Faculty Society membership will be optional
AMS Membership Fees fund almost every facet of the organization. The only AMS services still funded by a mandatory fee are Walkhome and the Queen’s Student Constables, everything aside from that is funded by membership fees. That means that elections, student financial assistance, Empower Me, student advocacy, club grants, Orientation Round Table, The AMS Food Bank, and more are now all funded on an opt-out basis.
So what does paying membership fees mean for you? It means that you can work at an AMS service, volunteer with the AMS, join an AMS ratified club, vote and run for office in AMS elections, and save money through exclusive discounts at our services. Additionally, we use AMS Membership fees to fund student advocacy. The AMS is the only organization dedicated to representing Queen’s University Undergraduate students. When it comes to issues that concern the University or the Government, we always stand up for student’s interests. Without AMS Membership fees, there won’t be anyone to speak for you when financial aid gets cut, or when university policy changes. By paying your AMS membership fees you’re funding a longstanding community that stands up for itself and its members.
Finding money to pay for school can be hard, and saving every little bit counts. That’s why for students concerned about the cost of AMS membership there is the Student Activity Fee Bursary. This bursary is available through the General Bursary application on SOLUS. If you have any questions about the Student Activity Fee Bursary please email firstname.lastname@example.org.