Fee levies are per-credit charges factored into tuition that help fund and subsidize various student groups. Most of these are harmonized into the tuition and are not available for opt-out, but some are. The Concordia Student Union website currently offers an opt-out for dental
and health insurance, and a list of other fee levies is posted on the site for public
perusal. Unfortunately, the current method for student group opt-outs at Concordia is
horrendously stacked against any student who tries to use it.
McGill gives students the opportunity to opt out of fee levies via the Internet, something
Concordia does not do. The conversion to online had ruffled some feathers in 2008
at McGill: particularly, the McGill chapter of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group said that online opt-outs are “detrimental to their ability to operate freely,” because students can too easily leave without knowing what they are missing. Concordia maintains the policy that students must visit the organization whose fees they want to opt out of with both their student ID cards and transcripts, and only after the official opt-out date of Sept. 21.
When questioning a clerk of one of these groups about my opt-out options, I was received
with the same aversion to online transitioning that came from QPIRG McGill. I was also met with a slight air of (albeit polite)
persuasiveness from the group member. Even an exchange with the nicest member
is going to be uncomfortable because of the nature of the discussion. Although clerks are required to comply with an opt-out request, the current system still poses a risk to students who opt out that they will endure enticements to change their mind while trying awkwardly to justify their position.
My entreaty has nothing to do with price (a full-time student taking five courses, for example, would pay a total 75 cents in fee levies to the Sustainable Concordia Project for the entire term), it has to do with principle. There seems to be a dejected sense of apathy that since the current opt-out program is coercive, bureaucratic and circuitous, it is too small a cost to be troubled with. The labyrinthine system is exploitative and undemocratic because it not only discourages a student from researching the facts, it also withholds from them the motivation to actively take part in student socio-economics.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to the existence of student groups. It is, however,
troublesome that students who object to certain fee levies, or are perhaps ideologically
opposed to some of the places their money is going, face numerous inconveniences
when trying to make use of the existing services. I can understand how an online opt-out
system might be too tempting to use for the lazier among us, but it remains a more ethical
alternative to one which uses inaccessibility to manipulate students into paying