By Sarah Krichel
Until late February, Ryerson students were having trouble getting their International Student Identity Cards (ISIC), causing a major inconvenience for those who plan to study abroad.
The ISIC card is proof of your student status worldwide allowing you to receive discounts and benefits in over 130 countries, according to the ISIC website. Because of this issue, students are not getting the discounts and benefits on expenses that they should be getting such as education, travel, entertainment and software.
According to Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) president Andrea Bartlett, the union had been attempting to fix a machine intended to print the cards since it was found to not function correctly in September. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is responsible for the cards, Bartlett said, and resolved the issue on Feb. 26 after not showing up to a scheduled meeting the week before.
Bartlett wrote via email that until the machine was fixed, the RSU tried to do everything in their power to solve the issue. She said the CFS was not cooperative.
Last semester, representatives of the CFS did not respond to requests from the RSU to rectify the issue, according to Bartlett.
But Rajean Hoilett, chairperson of CFS-Ontario and former RSU president, says otherwise. He said that CFS has been in ongoing communication with the Member Services Office (MSO) coordinator of the RSU.
“We actually were able to go by their office [last week],” Hoilett said. “[The RSU is] currently able to print student ISIC cards and we have already scheduled another follow-up appointment.”
Simona Sustova, a student who is currently on exchange from Amsterdam in the business management field at Ryerson, said in an email that she didn’t even know the card existed.
“Possessing this card might be a helpful way to reduce a lot of costs with travel and shopping in worldwide brand stores,” Sustova said.
Until the machine was fixed, Bartlett said that Ryerson students’ only option was to go to the Ontario College of Art and Design University or to George Brown College to be given the identity cards for free.
Former Eyeopener editor Natalia Balcerzak was sent to the University of Toronto (U of T) to be issued a card but was charged $20 for it. Obaid Ullah, the RSU’s vice president finance said the Member Services Office never instructed any student to go to U of T.
“We are not sure why students would be charged to get one,” Bartlett said in an email. “It’s stated pretty clearly in their materials the card is free for CFS members.”
Ryerson pays $385,000 per year in CFS membership fees, approximately 20 per cent of the budget, according to Ullah.
Ullah said the CFS’s failure to show up to a meeting is “unprofessional and disappointing.” He said it is fair to expect a certain level of service from the organization considering the amount Ryerson pays for the membership.
Ullah wrote via email that the RSU was disappointed “given that we [had] been trying to contact the CFS to fix the machine and system that makes our ISIC cards since September.”
Hoilett said that they would have appreciated a more direct line of communication with the RSU.
“This is the first time that we had been aware that this is an escalating issue,” Hoilett said.