Released emails show leaders jumped the gun on online opt-out.

Disclosure: CJLO is a fee levy group, and has threatened legal action against the CSU for its handling of online opt-out infrustructure. Those responsible for legal threats against the CSU do not have editorial influence over CJLO's news department. Photo Credit: Concordia University  


Concordia Student Union (CSU) General Coordinator Chris Kalafatidis began talks with the university on online opt-outs before consulting fee levy groups.

Emails between Kalafatidis and the administration were made public by Councillor Margot Berner on Monday after being obtained by a Freedom of Information request, she says.

Fee levies are groups like Peoples Potato and The Refugee Centre that students pay a small fee to per credit. That fee makes up all or part of their operating budget. Like all Concordia’s student media, CJLO is a fee levy group.

“I'm just very tired of these people treating binding legal codes as suggestions to be ignored.”

- Margot Berner, CSU Councillor

Students can decide not to pay those fees, or “opt-out” by attending opt-out fares held once per semester. In November 2019, the CSU asked the students to vote on whether they wanted to bring that process online. Students voted yes to the referendum question which said “the system will be created in consultation with all fee-levy organizations.”

In the emails, Kalafatidis requests the system should allow students to select which groups they would like to opt-out of through a “check box system” that would be implemented by September 2020. The check box system is not explicitly mentioned in the referendum question, neither is the date.

Those emails were sent in December, nearly a month before any fee levy groups would be formally consulted. “Online opt-out passed with the idea that fee levies would be consulted about the process, which would be decided on by the council,” says Berner. “That hasn't happened.”

“I just exclaimed the words: that’s not true.

Chris Kalafatidis, CSU General Coordinator 

Berner says Kalafatidis’s recommendations violate CSU bylaws, which gives governing authority to council, not to the executive team which Kalafatidis leads. “I'm just very tired of these people treating binding legal codes as suggestions to be ignored.”

Kalafatidis says his correspondence with the university has been misrepresented. “I just exclaimed the words: that’s not true.

Kalafatidis says he recommended the check box system to allow students to opt out of fee levies “individually,” as outlined in the referendum question. He says he added the date because he felt that it was a fair timeline.

“I think it's what the students want.”

Kalafatidis says his early contact with the administration was to familiarize them with what the students had voted on. He says he intended to deliver a final set of recommendations after consultations with fee levies. Kalafatidis says there is likely a prototype of an online opt-out tool being developed by the university; however he is not involved in it.

On January 8th, a consultation committee was created with Kalafatidis, several councillors, and Isaiah Joyner. Joyner is the External & Mobilization Coordinator in Kalafatidis’s slate Cut the Crap. He has been elected as the incoming general coordinator under the newly formed We Got You ticket.

“I was disappointed,” says Joyner. “I was under the impression that this was going to be an open process.”

Joyner says he was not aware that Kalafatidis had been communicating with the administration regarding a vision for the platform. Kalafatidis says he had told the committee about his correspondences in their first meeting in January.

After the committee was created, consultations with fee levies were done primarily over email. Groups were asked to introduce themselves, their fears and hopes for an online opt-out system, and how they would like to see it implemented.

Joyner says he thinks a September deadline is too soon and has his doubts about the consultation process. “We don’t even know the impact it’s going to have on the CSU’s budget,” he says, “let alone the impact on everyone else.”

On May 11th, Kalafatidis published the consultation committee’s final report. The report includes responses from each fee levy group.


Luca Caruso-Moro is the news director for CJLO 1690AM. You can reach him at