Ontario College Student Support Fund – Student Support Fund is Insufficient

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, November 30, 2017 – Student Support Fund is Insufficient

TO: All media
RE: Ontario College Student Support Fund – Student Support Fund is Insufficient
FROM: Niagara College Student Administrative Council, Fanshawe Student Union, Sheridan Student Union, Georgian College Students’ Association, St. Lawrence College Cornwall Student Union, Seneca Student Federation, St. Clair Student Representative Council, Student Association George Brown College

The dust has now settled on the longest strike in the history of the Ontario College System, yet
students are still left in the dark as they attempt to access the Student Support Fund; formerly the
“Student Hardship Fund.”

Student associations across the province are asking the Government to reconsider the current
structure of the fund, as the allocated funds are insufficient. The fund will reimburse a select few
groups on campus and the ministry guidelines leaves colleges to decide what constitutes a strike
expense, ultimately leaving most students unrecognized for their hardship.

On November 20th, the Honourable Minister Matthews and the Ontario Liberals announced that a
“hardship fund” would be created for students “who experienced financial hardship as a result of the
strike.” The overall estimated, gross savings across the province was approximately $135M on the
conservative side. The fund is comprised of the colleges’ net savings from the estimated $135M, but
according to the Minister it will diminish to approximately $5M once the strike expenses of the
colleges are submitted. How can this be the case? Ministry instructions in regards to college expenses
that can be charged to this gross savings, are extremely vague, but include lost revenues, tuition
reimbursements and “added expenses caused by the strike.”

The fund is designed to reimburse students up to $500 for “incremental expenses” due to the
semesters being extended. Currently, the following students qualify for funding:

  • Students who can prove incremental childcare costs during the weeks of December 18-22, January 2-5 and April 23-27.
  • Students scheduled to graduate in December will be permitted to claim January’s rent.
  • Students incurring incremental transit costs due to extended semesters.
  • Students who rescheduled their travel plans due to the strike.

Students across the province are outraged that this fund does not acknowledge the financial
hardship of students will suffer lost wages over the Holiday Break or the over 15 days of lost class
time.

It is imperative that the Government create clear directions to the colleges as to what constitutes net
savings, as to not completely deplete the fund before students get access.

The collective student associations are asking that the Government add funding in order to aid in
the disbursement of $500 to all full-time students of all 24 Ontario colleges. All students have
experienced a financial hardship and are thus entitled to a fair and equal amount.

Student associations from across the province will continue to ensure that the student voice is
represented, and that Government and College administrations are held accountable. Minister
Matthews has continually mentioned that she “has heard from students about the hardships they
have experienced as a result of the strike.” It is time to recognize those hardships and to reform the
Student Support Fund to a format that is all encompassing, and not situationally discriminatory.

QUOTES:

Questions to Presidents:

1. What action would you like the MAESD to take in regards to amending the
fund?

“I would like to see the MAESD remove some restrictions around incremental costs and
open the opportunity for all students who have experienced hardship to access this fund. If
the MAESD is worried about the net savings being insufficient for all students, mandate the
colleges to budget a refund amount per student, rather than relying on what net savings
may amount to. Help invest in our students.”
Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council (NCSAC)

“It is the stance of our Federation that all full-time students should receive $500.00 or an allotted
amount from the Fund. Additionally, students who have experienced a greater loss should then
have the opportunity to apply for reimbursement through a regulated process. The current
application process cannot accurately compensate students for the time wasted as well as the
immense stress for those student trying to complete their fall semester.”
LéNea Richardson – Acting President, Seneca Student Federation

2. What do you feel is the biggest deficiency in the structure of this fund?

“The biggest deficiency is fair equity for all students affected by the strike, and this speaks to the
last point where there shouldn’t be any proof needed for that baseline disbursement. There is
also the lack of clarity of the fund and how colleges are casting their expenses against the fund.”
Enrique Ponce – President, Sheridan College Student Union Inc.

“The Ministry says each student can apply for up to $500 after they “prove their hardship” yet we
are told there is only about $5M in net Hardship funds available. For that math to work, only
10,000 students can access the maximum allowable amount which is less than 5% of the full time
students in the Province. This is a system full of inherent barriers to students. That math does not
work for me. All students, at all colleges, deserve fair and equal treatment, hence we are are
requesting the funds to support that. It would be a more efficient use of public administration
money to have 24 Colleges submit strike expenses to the Ministry rather than 250,000 students
required to submit the explanations of their hardships to their College.“
Morganna Sampson – President, Fanshawe Student Union

“The lack of acknowledgement of student’s mental health, and other hardships during
the strike. Also ignoring that many students had plans of working over the holiday
break, but instead now have to be in school. This causes more financial hardship
during an already financially stressful time.”
Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council

“The Ministry has been putting up the facade that they are really looking out for our students but
refuse to provide adequate compensation to all students affected. All student circumstances are
unique. Therefore, students should be entitiled to an allotted amount without having to endure
further duress of this application process. After five long weeks, they are entitled to be treated fairly
and equitably. Please remember that these are not just our students. These are your students . They
deserve better and on their behalf we urge you to do better.”
LéNea Richardson – Acting President, Seneca Student Federation

QUICK FACTS:

  • The MAESD announced the Student Support Fund on Monday, November 20th and gave
    colleges five days to develop protocol around the fund “in conjunction with students.”
  • The estimated gross savings from faculty wages to the college is $135M
  • $90,000 average salary + 30% remittances savings x 12,000 faculty x 5 weeks = $135M
  • The estimated amount of the fund as announced by the ministry is $5M, although total
    gross savings or expenses cannot be provided by the ministry or colleges at this time.
  • Colleges will be permitted to claim loss revenues as a result of the strike, but students
    are not permitted to claim loss wages they would have earned during the extended
    semesters.

 

CONTACTS:

Ryan Huckla – President, Niagara College Student Administrative Council
289-213-7965
sacpres@niagaracollege.ca

Enrique Ponce – President, Sheridan Student Union Inc.
905-845-9430 ext 2301
enrique.ponce@sheridancollege.ca

Morganna Sampson – President, Fanshawe Student Union
519-452-4109 ext. 6314
m_sampson2@fanshawec.ca

LéNea Richardson – Acting President, Seneca Student Federation
416-491-5050 ext 22984
lenea.richardson@senecacollege.ca

Avery Konda – President, Georgian College Students’ Association
705.728.1968, ext. 5286
Avery.Konda@GeorgianCollege.ca

Erika Randolph – President, St. Lawrence College Cornwall Student Union
613-933-6080 ext 2204
cmadlin@sl.on.ca

Nick Goran – President, St. Clair Student Representative Council
519-972-2727 x. 4524
srcpresident@stclaircollege.ca

Mercedes Burrowes – Director of Campus Life, Student Association George Brown College
416.415.5000 ext. 6978
dircampuslife@sagbc.ca

Download press release as a pdf

Important update regarding academic accommodation

The Student Association of George Brown College (SAGBC) discovered a policy titled: “A Statement of Principles and Procedures Regarding Academic Issues During and Following A Disruption of Academic Programming” on the George Brown website. It was reviewed and approved by the Board of Governors on Aug. 31, 2006, as it was intended to support the post-strike period that occurred at that time.

On Nov.27, 2017 the SAGBC executive committee reminded the college of this policy, as it already covered a number of the questions and requests for governing principles the executives posed to the administration, such as fairness to students, student success and academic integrity. In addition, the policy outlined alternative methods that the faculty could utilize to ensure student success post-strike.

This policy outlined multiple alternatives to safeguard students’ learning outcomes, such as:

1. Pass/fail option may be used in limited cases where faculty members have sufficient evidence that students have/have not met the essential outcomes, but they do not have sufficient information to use the standards grading values.

2. Aegrotat standing may be used in exceptional cases (a) where students, for good reason, have not been able to complete the work required for evaluation and (b) where the faculty member is confident that the students are sufficiently prepared to graduation or to the next level of study.

3. Standing Deferred may be used if outcomes have to be postponed to a subsequent semester. This would be used where students will not have the opportunity to learn critical material and cannot reasonably do so in the time available.”

                  – George Brown College, Academic Policies and Guidelines (August 31, 2006)

On Nov. 27, 2017, the SAGBC executive members had wanted to post this policy, for the sake of students’ awareness, as of as they recognize there is still a lot of stress and anxiety coming off of the strike.

On Nov. 28, 2017, after the executives presented this policy to the College, and they were informed that it had been rescinded and it was removed from the website. The executives of the SAGBC asked for the date and minutes from the Board of Governors meeting where this policy was supposedly rescinded.

On Nov. 29, 2017, the College informed the executive that their labour relations staff advised that there was no issue with using the original policy as it was written in 2006 and they will repost it back to the website.

While this is great news, there needs to be recognition of this failing of awareness on the College’s part during the negotiations between the SAGBC and the College. The SAGBC demanded from the College that this policy be reposted on its website, and we are happy to announce that it has been reposted.

In conclusion, the executives of the SAGBC will continue to advocate for the wellbeing of students and the utmost success of their semester. The executive members of the SAGBC encourage students to use this policy as they continue their academic year.

Sincerely,
Riddhi Modi, Director of Communications and Internal
Mercedes Burrowes, Director of Campus Life
Tiffany White, Director of Education
Alex Steward, Director of Equity

Download this letter as a pdf.

Annual General Meeting


Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Lunch provided at 1 p.m.)
George Brown College
Kings Lounge,
St. James A Building, room 150

200 King St. East, Toronto, ON M5A 3W8

The Student Association of George Brown College (SA) invites all full-time students—SA members—to participate in our Annual General Meeting.

AGM packages with motions, proxies, and proposed changes to the bylaws are available for pickup at all Student Association front offices during regular office hours.

You can also download a copy here: AGM package Nov. 30, 2017

Please join us, and learn more about your Student Association.

Lunch provided at 1 p.m.

Open letter to the Senior Management of George Brown College

Open letter (pdf)

Monday, November 6, 2017

RE: Open Letter to the Senior Management of George Brown College

As we move into the fourth week of strike action, the students of George Brown College have grown increasingly concerned about the implications and impact this strike has on their education.

The Executive of the Student Association met with the President of George Brown College, Anne Sado, and the Interim Executive Dean, Dr. Cory Ross, on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. We presented them with questions sourced directly from students and requested that the Student Association executives be included in future meetings with the senior management when planning strategies that will ultimately affect our students, such as a possible extension to the current semester, financial hardships and cancellation of the next semester’s intersession week.

In this meeting, the questions submitted to the President and Interim Executive Dean were partially answered. The answers we received were presented in an executive update posted on November 3, 2017. The remaining questions, largely revolving around topics concerning OSAP disbursement and tuition refunds, that were left unanswered were given a deadline for response, which was to be November 6, 2017. A full list of the questions asked can be found on the Student Association’s website.

Unfortunately, this was not honoured and the executives of the Student Association were shocked to discover, through a Facebook post from the College on November 6, 2017, that decisions were made impacting the scheduled breaks in the academic year. No consultation with the Student Association occurred.

The Student Association condemns the cancellation of the originally scheduled winter break. There has also been no tangible plan regarding students who have already made travel plans during the originally scheduled breaks that the College has decided to revoke. Other options should be explored with consultation from students, as we are the ones who are directly affected by such decisions.

The students have communicated that, while George Brown College may not be directly responsible for the outcome of the strike action, the College has been lacking in proper planning for and communication of the strike. While the College has been updating students with information as it is released, there has been no notice of what tangible plan is in place to accommodate the missed classes, exams, and assignments upon return to the classroom.

 As elected representatives of our full-time students, we are calling on you, the senior leadership of George Brown College, to develop and share with students a tangible plan for students who have been impacted by this strike.

The Student Association is presenting the following demands to you, the senior leaders of George Brown College:

  • the development and communication of a contingency plan for this semester;
  • the development and communication of a contingency plan for the Winter 2018 semester;
  • maintain the originally scheduled winter break and intersession week;
  • clear, direct communication regarding the strike and its impacts on students with email updates for every update added to the website and/or social media;
  • a formal written statement from the President of George Brown College regarding the state of our academic year;
  • confirmation of special academic consideration for students with prior travel plans during the week of December 16-22 made prior to November 6, 2017;
  • re-commitment to the agreed upon open communication with the Student Association Executive team during the strike; and
  • inclusion of representatives from the Student Association in any and all meetings where strike-related decisions affecting students will be made.

Every day that our students are not in class affects their ability to learn, their financial situations, and their mental health and well-being. Every day is a day of uncertainty and students need to know what plan is in place.

Students should not suffer the consequences imposed upon them because of a dispute between employers and employees, and most importantly, students need more than an FAQ with vague responses that do not address a very real issue: our access to education.

We are committed to ongoing communications on this matter and we will continue to share the concerns of our students.

Sincerely,

Riddhi Modi, Director of Communications and Internal

Tiffany White, Director of Education

Mercedes Burrowes, Director of Campus Life

Alex Stewart, Director of Equity

Strike Related Questions asked to the President of George Brown College

November 1, 2017

Our students want to know where the negotiations are at the moment. We are asking for the College to be more transparent and provide more information on a regular basis. These questions were given to the Executives directly from our membership:

  1. In terms of the tuition refund petition that is circulating online, is there any support or say regarding that from the College?
  2. The College needs to account for the tuition fee that students paid in the beginning of the semester. Teachers were scheduled to work x number of hours for the semester. Since the teachers are not teaching and not getting paid from the College, where is our tuition fee money going to?
  3. What are the options already being discussed as to how the College and faculty going to address the missed classes. Are they going to condense the materials, are they going to give assignments instead of exams (depending on the program), are they going to extend the semester? The students need to know so they can start planning accordingly. It’s very difficult when you have no clue as to what might happen. It is easier for students to deal with the stress of the strike if they have a clearer picture of what it could be like once the strike is over.
  4. Why did some teachers ask their students to still submit assignments even when the strike is on? Will students be penalized with late marks if they don’t?
  5. Will the College send the enrollment confirmation to OSAP as scheduled to avoid delay on OSAP disbursement in January?
  6. What are the ramifications of this strike on our OSAP loan? If we do not finish first semester on time, what can happen to our OSAP funds? Will OSAP hold the release of the January funds until the completion of the first semester?
  7. What supports will be in place for students when the strike is over and classes resume? For example, extended TLC hours for those working on assignments/preparing for exams.
  8. How does this affect tuition?
  9. How will this affect the vacation period? The next semester? The 7-week courses? When will the December break be?
  10. What can students do in this situation?
  11. Need to address the issue of the ability to drop a class. Is it still possible for students to drop? Will the deadline be moved? Will students be stuck with their classes because the deadline has passed?

Executive Update Regarding College Strike

Faculty Strike Related Questions

Students want to know where the negotiations are at the moment. We are asking for the College to be more transparent and provide more information on a regular basis.

Questions Directly from Our Members:

  1. In terms of the tuition refund petition that is circulating online, is there any support or say regarding that from the College?
  2. The College needs to account for the tuition fee that students paid in the beginning of the semester. Teachers were scheduled to work x number of hours for the semester. Since the teachers are not teaching and not getting paid from the College, where is our tuition fee money going to?
  3. What are the options already being discussed as to how the College and faculty going to address the missed classes. Are they going to condense the materials, are they going to give assignments instead of exams (depending on the program), are they going to extend the semester? The students need to know so they can start planning accordingly. It’s very difficult when you have no clue as to what might happen. It is easier for students to deal with the stress of the strike if they have a clearer picture of what it could be like once the strike is over.
  4. Why did some teachers ask their students to still submit assignments even when the strike is on? Will students be penalized with late marks if they don’t?
  5. a) Will the College send the enrollment confirmation to OSAP as scheduled to avoid delay on OSAP disbursement in January?

b) What are the ramifications of this strike on our OSAP loan? If we do not finish first semester on time, what can happen to our OSAP funds? Will OSAP hold the release of the January funds until the completion of the first semester

6. What supports will be in place for students when the strike is over and classes resume? For example, extended TLC hours for those working on assignments/preparing for exams.

7.How does this affect tuition?

8.How will this affect the vacation period? The next semester? The 7-week courses? When will the December break be?

9.What can students do in this situation?

  1. Need to address the issue of the ability to drop a class. Is it still possible for students to drop? Will the deadline be moved? Will students be stuck with their classes because the deadline has passed?

November 3, 2017
Executive Update Regarding College Strike

With the strike in its third week, we know that students are frustrated and anxious. Over the past few weeks your Student Association (SA) has been receiving feedback from students and has been working hard to advocate for you.

Recently, your SA Executives had a meeting with George Brown College President Anne Sado and Interim Executive Dean Dr. Cory Ross along with other members of the college. At this meeting, we presented them with questions sourced directly from students with the help of our Academic Advocacy staff. Your SA Executives were able to secure the following important updates from the college:

  • The November 3rd deadline to withdraw from the courses without academic penalty has been extended to November 24th.
  • 24-hour library access will be available to the students starting one week after classes resume.
  • The college has confirmed that OSAP won’t be affected as of right now, including the payments in January 2018. However the impact on OSAP loans will depend on the length of strike and instructions from the Ministry that are not yet available. Once the strike is over, the college will send out any updates to OSAP.
  • Students are encouraged to work on their assignments, however they will not be penalized for missing any original deadlines that fell within the strike period.
  • For international students, as of right now the college has confirmed that their study permits will not be affected because of the strike.
  • The Deans of George Brown have confirmed that details of semester completion will vary by program, but will be guided by the following principles:
  1. Courses will pick up where they left off.
  2. Plans will recognize that students need notice before writing tests and completing assignments.
  3. Students will receive the support they require to complete their academic year. Individual needs and circumstances will be taken into consideration for students who require additional support or accommodation.

We are still awaiting further clarifications on a number of other questions that we have asked the college. We continue to have ongoing communication with the college and will continue to provide updates to our students as we receive them. We will continue to fight to ensure that the impacts on our students from this strike are as limited as possible.

Sincerely,

Riddhi Modi
Director of Communications and Internal                     

Mercedes Burrowes
Director of Campus Life

Tiffany White
Director of Education                                                               

Alex Stewart
Director of Equity

Update on SA services during a strike or lockout

In the event of a strike or lockout at Ontario colleges, the Student Association of George Brown College’s (SA) programs and services will operate as normal for the benefit of students. 

The following SA offices will be open during regular operating hours:

Casa Loma campus
142 Kendal Ave., Room e100
416-415-5000 Ext. 4730

St. James campus
200 King St. E.. Room 147
416-415-5000 Ext. 2455
 

Waterfront campus
51 Dockside Dr., Room 033
416-415-5000 Ext. 5360

SA  sponsored events will continue during a strike or lockout. For a list of our events please visit: http://studentassociation.ca/events

*Food vendors may choose to close at their discretion
** Ryerson SA office will be closed

DisOrientation 2017

DisOrientation 2017 Oct. 2 This year’s theme: Foundations. Because as students, we can build each other up. Come together to learn and skill-share around issues of consent, anti-black racism, self-care, free education, and more. Hosted by the Community Action Centre

A week-long series of social justice events welcoming new and returning students and community members. This year’s theme: Foundations. Because as students, we can build each other up.

Come together to learn and skill-share around issues of consent, anti-black racism, self-care, free education, and more.

Hosted by the Community Action Centre

 

Queer Care Day: Drop-in Crafting

Monday Oct. 2
11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
200 King St. E., St. James campus
Community Action Centre room 165B
http://bit.ly/CACdisO-Care

 

Fight the Fees Meeting

Organizing for free education

Tuesday, Oct. 3
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Student Lounge, Casa Loma campus
http://bit.ly/CACdisO-FTF

 

Shut It Uncle Bob! Addressing Racism from Family Friends and Loved Ones

Workshop on confronting racism

Wednesday, Oct. 4
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
St. James A building, 200 King St. E.
Career Centre, room B155, workshop room #2
http://bit.ly/CACdisO-Bob

 

Sisters in Spirit Vigil

Honouring missing and murdered indigenous women

Wednesday, Oct. 4
5:45 p.m. – Meet at the Community Action Centre room 165B
6:00 p.m. – Depart to Allan Gardens
6:30 p.m. – Vigil at Allan Gardens
http://bit.ly/CACdisO-Sisters

 

The Hallmark of Tolerance

Film screening and panel on anti-black racism

Thursday, Oct. 5
6:45 p.m. – doors & food
7:15 p.m. – film starts (running time 91 minutes)
9:30 p.m. – panel & event ends
St. James campus, room 128, 200 King St. E.,
http://bit.ly/CACdisO-Tolerance

 

Consent and Consumption

Workshop on harm reduction and consent
Friday Oct. 6
11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
St. James A building, 200 King St. E.,
Quiet Lounge, room F150 (inside the King’s Lounge)
http://bit.ly/CACdisO-Consent

 

All DisOrientation events are free and open to students and community. Find specific accessibility info in the description of each event.

Questions/Accommodations: cacassistant@sagbc.ca