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BOA passes motion to prohibit contract signing during 101 week

Daniel LeRoy | Fulcrum Staff

THE STUDENT FEDERATION of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has implemented a new policy that will prevent companies from soliciting students’ signatures on contracts during 101 week.

According to the new Policy 43, students may inform themselves on different contracts and promotions at various booths set up in the Jock-Turcot University Centre (UCU) by companies like Bell and Royal Bank of Canada, but they will have to sign later.

SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy said companies are preying on students, and that the new policy—which had already been nominally in practice, but never formalized—will help protect students from signing bad contracts in the heat of the moment.

“Basically, what is happening on campus is that companies have been taking advantage of orientation weeks to get students to sign contracts,” she said. “Whether it is a cell phone contract, a credit card contract, or a loan, this is a great opportunity for companies.”
Roy said the policy would give students more time to consider contracts before signing them.

However, fourth-year environmental science student Ethain Arsenault said preventing students from signing contracts on the spot would simply force them to waste time doing so later; they will have to go through the process of signing up over the phone, when they could have done so in person in a much shorter time.

“Does the SFUO have such a low opinion of students that it thinks students aren’t even capable of understanding and signing a phone contract?” he asked.

Jasmin Cyr, a master’s student in political science, supports the SFUO’s policy.

“Many students are pretty young,” she said. “They don’t yet have the critical thought to make an educated decision. They want to be cool so they end up signing up for things that they don’t necessarily understand or need.”

Cyr insisted that students need more life experience to really understand what these contracts truly mean, and that students should not be allowed to sign up for them while surrounded by goading friends and a persuasive salesperson.

Roy said the threat in these contracts is in the fine print, and younger students may be more susceptible to persuasion. According to the SFUO, it is its mandate to protect students and this policy was drafted in an effort to do so.

According to SFUO vp services and communications Brad Lafortune, the student federation has already generated more revenue than in previous years from kiosk rentals in the UCU during 101 Week. Phone companies, banks, and magazine subscription booths may rent kiosks but are no longer able to solicit.

Attempts to contact a number of companies who are to participate in 101 Week were unreturned.