Student ‘Choice’ Initiative

Updates from the Student “Choice” Initiative.

Ryerson University has indicated that they will be discontinuing the Opt-Out portal now that the Provincial Government’s Student “Choice” Initiative has been deemed unlawful. The opt-out portals were removed from both RAMSS and the Chang School’s ‘Destiny’ system. Students who had opted-out of CESAR, Canadian Federation of Students and other ancillary fees for the Winter 2020 term will be charged the full fees. If you have already paid your fees, please check the fees portal to ensure that you have paid all your fees. CESAR will provide more information as it becomes available.

Read Ryerson’s statement on handling of student ancillary fees in the Winter 2020 term.

More info on the Student “Choice” Initiative and ruling from the Divisional Court of Ontario here.

Outdated Information (Applicable to Fall 2019)

CESAR is running a Maintain Your Membership campaign to encourage students to retain their students’ union membership and services. When enrolling in continuing education courses be sure to pay the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) fees to access all services and strengthen our collective voice both on-campus and at the government level.

Maintain Your Membership on DESTINY!
Enrolling on Destiny: To Maintain Your Membership keep the CESAR and CFS box checkmarked! (Destiny is the new course registration tool through the Chang School.
Maintain Your Membership on RAMSS!
Enrolling on RAMSS: Enrolling on RAMSS: To Maintain Your Membership do not checkmark the box!

Have you opted-out and want to opt-back-in?

If you have accidentally opt-out, or want to change your decision, you have until Friday, September 13 to opt-back-in.

For part-time degree and full-time undergraduate students: Please log-in to your RAMSS account and view left-hand column for Opt-Out options.

For certificate and non-degree students: Please email your name and your email. We will pass this information on to the Vice-Provost Students office.

General Questions

Why Maintain Membership in CESAR?

CESAR is your students’ union. Students are able to accomplish more when we work together. On principle, CESAR has been fighting for continuing education, distance education and part-time degree students representation for decades. This has led to greater university and government investments in non-traditional students (such as part-time bursaries and grants), expansions in childcare and breastfeeding spaces and better academic success and career building programs for mature students, to name a few. CESAR cannot continue to build upon student victories if we are working at half capacity.

There are many other reasons to maintain membership in CESAR, such as having full-access to our bursary program (over $125,000 distributed annually), get access to our free giveaways, such as the members handbook and dayplanner, and be able to attend and participate in events, campaigns and services offered by your students’ union. However, in order to be able to continue to offer these services to every student we need you to opt-in. We want to continue to represent and serve all of our members so that we can continue to be united in securing future student victories. 

What is the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson?

CESAR stands for the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson. It is the central students’ union that represents all 16,000 continuing education, distance education, and part-time degree students and any student taking a Chang School course at Ryerson. The students’ union is a membership-driven organization that is here to represent you, offer services to meet your student needs and build a community at Ryerson. More information about CESAR is available at

What is the Canadian Federation of Students?

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) is our national and provincial student movement that often takes the lead in fighting for student rights, lower tuition fees and student-friendly legislation on workers rights, economic development, climate justice and social justice. Furthermore, the Canadian Federation of Students is a lead advocate for campaigns that combat funding cuts to OSAP grants, Fairness for International Students, encouraging students to Get Out to Vote in government elections, and more. Now more than ever, it is important for students to be united across the province and country to challenge austerity, hate and misinformation – the Canadian Federation of Students is one of our strongest outlets to educate, agitate and organize. CESAR is local 105 of the Canadian Federation of Students and we strongly encourage every member to maintain this minimal membership fee. 

What is an ancillary fee and how do they exist?

Student fees are typically divided into two types of fees: tuition and ancillary. A tuition fee is a primarily academic-focused fee for accessing university and college. An ancillary fee is an additional fee that supplements the academic component of the university and college, whether through career services, athletics, campus groups, or your students’ union.

Students’ union fees, and most student-run service fees, were implemented via a democratic vote through all of the students’ union members at the time they were implemented. For many students’ union, there have been subsequent votes to increase, reduce, or create new fees to enhance programming as students have desired. For instance, in 2005 CESAR members decided to join the Canadian Federation of Students, and in 2018 RSU members decided to dedicate $5.00 per semester to the Good Food Centre and Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line. These were democratic votes that students got to have a collective say in implementing. These ancillary fees were mandatory and therefore funded the services in a sustainable way for all students to access and utilize the service.

What is the compulsory fee and what is the optional fee?

The provincial government has released a provincial framework for what ancillary fees are deemed “essential” and what is “not essential.” In essence, the only fees that are “non-essential” are students’ unions and campus media, while university services like athletics, student life and other fees are still compulsory. 

Ryerson University has reviewed the provincial framework and determined what is “essential” (or compulsory)  and what is “not essential” (optional). In short, CESAR’s fees are as follows:

  • Essential Operational Funding: $6.34 
  • Non-Essential Operational Funding: $7.72
  • Non-Essential CFS Funding: $2.66
  • Essential Health & Dental Plan (Part-time Degree students only): $223.23 (Fall enrollment) 153.13 (Winter enrollment)

Students can still opt-out of the health and dental plan, though through a different opt-out system. Visit

What do I lose by not paying the full CESAR fee?

By not paying the full CESAR fee, students who  pay just the compulsory fees will only have access to services deemed “essential” by the provincial government and Ryerson University. For CESAR members, this means that partial members will be deemed “Non-Voting”, and lose access to the CESAR Bursary (over $125,000 distributed annually), the Emergency Grant, student handbook & dayplanner, discounted tickets and services, access to CESAR events, campaigns and advocacy, and lose the right to run and vote in CESAR elections.

How will CESAR distinguish between members who pay the full amount (compulsory and optional) versus members who pay the partial amount (compulsory fees only)?

CESAR will have a dual membership to differentiate between full-members (Voting Members) and partial members (Non-Voting Members). CESAR will be provided with a differentiated membership list from the Ryerson University administration as well as a live-lookup system to verify student status. Although CESAR does not want to deny services to any member, the Student Choice Initiative implemented by the provincial government has actively disregarded student wellbeing via campus student service structures and forced students’ unions into a precarious financial situation.

What are some of the other ancillary fees affected by the Student Choice Initiative?

In addition to the CESAR fees, all CESAR members are members of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O). This is our national and provincial student movement that often takes the lead in fighting for student rights, lower tuition fees and student-friendly legislation on workers rights, economic development, climate justice and social justice. For continuing education and part-time degree students, we pay a prorated membership fee to support this movement.

Depending on your student status, you may also pay fees to the Ryerson Students’ Union, a faculty society, and campus media like the EyeOpener and CJRU. We encourage all of our members to opt-in and stay members of any and all ancillary fees. As mentioned above, these fees were democratically voted on (and can be increased, reduced or removed through democratic votes). The provincial government is undermining student democracy with the Student “Choice” Initiative. The decision to maintain membership is a principled decision.

Opt-In / Opt-Out Information

How often will I get to opt-out (or opt back in) to paying membership fees?

Each semester, students will have the opportunity to opt-out of a portion of their membership fees. For students using the Chang School Destiny website, you will have the same option each time you enroll in courses and assess your shopping cart.


For students using the RAMSS system, the choice that you make to stay a member or opt-out will become the default response for all future enrollment periods. You will still be able to change this response each semester.

If I want to change my response and opt-in to CESAR, how can I coordinate that process?

Each semester students will have the opportunity to reverse their decision and opt-back-in to fees that they may have opted out of. CESAR is also investigating alternative ways to opt-back-in to CESAR. The timeline to reverse your decision and maintain your membership with CESAR is Friday, September 13, 2019 and can be completed on RAMSS.

I am currently paying both the Ryerson Students’ Union and the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson fees? Why am I paying both?

Students who are enrolled in full-time degrees (or “traditional” post-secondary education) are members of the Ryerson Students’ Union. However, if a full-time degree student takes a continuing education course they are also part of CESAR. We encourage all members to opt-in to all student ancillary fees on the principle that the Student “Choice” Initiative is a violation of student autonomy. Also, by opting in you can access services and be involved in both students’ unions and therefore have a stronger voice on campus and within our community!

What is the difference between Destiny and RAMSS?

In July 2019, the Chang School launched its new course enrolment platform Destiny. Destiny allows distance education and continuing education students to easily access course enrollment and not rely on RAMSS (Ryerson’s student enrollment portal) which takes two to four days to send you student identification information). 

The two different enrolment processes have created some confusion because some CESAR members will continue to use RAMSS to enroll in courses (and thereby pay CESAR fees) and others to use Destiny (and thereby use a different system to pay CESAR fees). Students will only use one system to enroll (so don’t worry about double paying) but remember:

Enrolling on Destiny: To Maintain Your Membership keep the CESAR and CFS box checkmarked

Enrolling on RAMSS: To Maintain Your Membership do not checkmark the box

Student ‘Choice’ Initiative

What is the Student 'Choice' Initiative?

The Student ‘Choice’ Initiative was announced by the provincial government in January 2019 as part of regressive reforms to post-secondary education. It removes collective membership dues for student-run groups and organizations and makes fees that students have voted on through democratic referenda optional. It will reduce the ability of students’ unions to represent and provide services for their members.

Unfortunately, this initiative does not enhance choice but puts students in a tough situation given the high cost of living in Ontario and the exorbitant costs of post-secondary education. It is made even harder given that students have to make this decision before they learn what organizations they are opting-out of.

Why is the provincial government proposing this initiative?

The provincial government has proposed the Student ‘Choice’ Initiative along with cuts to OSAP funding and unsustainable (and unfunded) reductions in domestic student tuition fees. In short, the current provincial government either does not understand how post-secondary education works in Ontario or they have a distaste for the post-secondary sector. In fact, Premier Doug Ford has publicly stated that he regards students’ unions as “crazy Marxist nonsense” and that his government has “fixed” the problems with students’ unions through this legislation. Regardless, the Student ‘Choice’ Initiative was implemented with minimal, if any, consultation with stakeholders nor with any appreciation for the large breadth of work that students’ unions, student societies, campus media and other student services add to the campus community.

How can I get involved in CESAR and the fight against the Student 'Choice' Initiative?

CESAR will find a way to continue to do the great work that continuing education, distance education and part-time degree students expect from us – but we need your help. Please opt-in and maintain your membership and tell your colleagues to do the same. Get involved in CESAR through our Class Representative Program and Volunteer Rewards Program at or get involved in our many committees around events, campaigns and services. There is always room for more students at the table.