#thetimeisnow

Trade in your next Starbucks drink for MSU services Please #OptIn because non-essential student services are important to fund

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Photo by Matty Flader/ Photo Reporter

From Sept. 12 to 20, the newly implemented Student Choice Initiative will allow university students across Ontario to opt-out of non-essential student services.

According to the Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines, essential services consist of 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.

In terms of McMaster Students Union services, this would include services such as WGEN, Maccess, the Pride Community Centre, SHEC, SWHAT, 93.3 CFMU, the Food Collective Centre and more. Non-essential fees include services such as MSU clubs and the Silhouette.

While these budget cuts may not seem to affect you if you’re not directly involved in a club or something like the campus newspaper or radio, opting out of that $9 or $10-dollar fee will be detrimental to the McMaster community.

Let me break it down for you. If you decide to opt-out of the $10 MSU clubs fee, and everyone else follows suit, clubs will lose a huge portion of their funding. Currently, clubs are run solely by student volunteers and many of them hold events for the community, free of charge. Movie nights, de-stressors, cultural community gatherings, discussion groups and karaoke nights — you name it, and a club has probably done it.

Clubs also offer an opportunity to students to help grow their managing skills, creativity and passion for a certain area. For many, extracurriculars are a place of refuge. They can serve as a break away from stressful courses or provide a welcoming community for a variety of identities.  

Now imagine all of this — gone. All of this would disappear, or be severely limited, because you wanted to save $10, which can get you maybe two Starbucks frappuccinos. Even if you have yet to join a club, I’m almost certain that you’ve benefited off club freebies, bought food at a bake sale or attended an event in the past.

If that’s not convincing enough, we can also take a glance at the future of the Silhouette. McMaster’s campus newspaper has historically shed light on crucial events that impact students such as MSU presidential campaigns, the student representative assembly, sexual violence surveys and more.

As someone who has just joined the Silhouette team, I can already tell you that we are eager and passionate to break news, events and opinions on things that matter most to students. The Silhouette is constantly striving to hold the MSU and university as a whole accountable. By paying our fee, you are supporting our reporters, editors, managing, production and online team to continue producing relevant content for you. You are helping potential journalists break into the industry and report on news that affects all of us.

There are still so many other non-essential services that I haven’t gone into length, such as MSU Spark, 93.3 CFMU and Mac Farmstand. Maybe you haven’t accessed any of these services, but so many students benefit from them.

You may think that it won’t matter if a few students opt out. What’s a few dollars going to do to a whole service or department?

However, that’s the stem of the issue — many people will follow the herd mindset and believe that if they are one of the few to opt out, then it won’t cause a budgeting issue. Supporting the student body and union means that everyone should be opting in, because it’s more than likely that one of your peers have accessed some of these non-essential services.

A student union cannot exist without students contributing to the union. That’s why these services function so well. Skip on that UberEats order and contribute to your student union instead by #OptingIn.

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Author: Steffi Arkilander

Steffi is in her third year of Health Sciences. During the school year, you can find her hiding out at Innis Library and off-campus coffee shops, where she spends a bit too much time watching bad TV shows and playing Pokemon Go. She enjoys hikes, plants, frogs and empowering other voices through opinions pieces.