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Where do your DCSA fees go?

HomeNewsCommunityWhere do your DCSA fees go?

Where do your DCSA fees go?

Written by Andrew Neary and Andre Spence

For the fall and winter semesters, every full-time Durham College student paid $480 to the Durham College Student Association (DCSA), except for those who opted out of the health plan.

The DCSA charges mandatory ancillary fees to all students at the school. With millions of dollars going to the association each year, the Chronicle explains where that money goes.

DCSA’s fees are in the middle of the pack when compared to similarly-sized schools. Fanshawe College’s union charges just under $580 for similar services, while Fleming’s Student Administrative Council charges $212 but doesn’t manage the health plan.

Almost every student at Durham College has used a service from the DCSA, even if they don’t know it, according to Charles Wilson, the DCSA operations manager.

A student reaches for a bottle of vitamin D on a shelf in the Durham College pharmacy.
The college’s student association, DCSA, provides health and dental insurance to students for just under $300 per year. The coverage does not include over-the-counter medication or vitamins. It does pay for up to 90 per cent of prescribed medications and treatments. Photo credit: Andrew Neary

First up, the DCSA health plan.

Domestic students pay $175-a-year for Blue Cross insurance coverage. The plan covers up to 90 per cent of prescribed medication and treatments. Students can opt out of this payment, only if they have other comparable insurance plans.

International students pay an additional $500 for the amenities OHIP covers for those who are domestic.

The DCSA also provides dental coverage for just under $110 per school year. Both health and dental coverage can be used on and off campus.

Students curious about specific coverage can find details in the Blue Cross app or by visiting the StudentVIP website.

“We have a $4-million a year health plan which we manage ourselves,” said Wilson. “That requires a level of expertise to make sure that the money is properly accounted for, and that students get the maximum value.”

DCSA also charges $36 each semester for Student Centre fees. The building houses the Student Lounge, eSport Arena, DCSA administration offices and food services, such as Booster Juice and Smash’d Kitchen.

According to Wilson, the student association inherited the building with more office space than they needed. To make better use of the space, he said, the DCSA is planning a renovation, costing up to $5 million.

From these offices, the student association organizes events covered by the student life fee. Students pay about $26 a semester to fund student experience events on campus such as movie nights and doughnut giveaways.

The DCSA also holds events off campus at the Biltmore Pub. “We have nighttime programs because that’s what the students want,” Wilson said.

The student association supports students with health and wellness services, as well. Just over $28 a semester funds the DCSA Support Hub. The hub provides counselling, social services support, legal advice, and more.

The Campus Radio Station fee funds the DCSA Media Hub. It houses Riot Radio, which plays music throughout the day on campus and online. It also provides a space for podcast production and audio recording. Students pay about $9 per semester for the station.

Wilson says the DCSA will publish the next full audit of its revenue and expenses for the 2023 school year after the next general meeting. There’s no indication when that will take place.