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Ryerson Campus. Photo: CC, Wikicommons. Credit, Carsten Kebler.

Ryerson’s student paper is funded by same student levies Ford made optional

The Eyeopener, Ryerson University’s independent student newspaper, broke news in late January of over $250,000 in questionable charges to the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) credit cards. The purchases were made at nightclubs, clothing stores, airbnbs and a credit risk management company. It seems like the RSU was trying to make the SFUO look somewhat better in comparison.

Doug Ford used this gross misuse of funds as an example to support his government’s recent tuition changes. Specifically, the Student Choice Initiative, through which students will be able to opt-out of “non-essential” student fees, including union dues and student levies.

What Ford fails to realize, is that the Eyeopener, the student newspaper which broke this story, is funded directly from student fees. Ford has left it to the discretion of institutions to identify “essential services”, however it should be noted that health and safety fees, as well as sports and recreation are automatically identified as essential and mandatory.

The importance of student journalism has been displayed over and over this past year. From reporting on specific campus-perspective issues, to holding student governments accountable, to informing the student population, student newspapers serve an important, and essential, role in student life. Under this new initiative, we’ll all pay.

This is major hypocrisy from Ford: projecting stories uncovered by student journalism with his voice while undercutting it with his actions. This speaks volumes about the premier.

The Eyeopener has done an amazing job uncovering this scandal, poring over financial statements, and reporting on subsequent events. Whilst the Ford government aims to weaken the resources provided to student journalists across the province, the Eyeopener continues to hold their student government accountable and do their jobs. Students will assuredly opt out of the very student fees that are used by journalists to hold it accountable.

Ford shouldn’t be able to use information gathered by a source that relies on student levies, as backing to why student levies should be optional. The Eyeopener needs their funding in order to carry out this important work.

If it weren’t for the Eyeopener’s journalists,  Ford wouldn’t have this tinder to use in his vendetta against student unions. He shouldn’t be able to destroy a service while subsequently benefiting off of its product.