April 22, 2019

By CHRIS HUSSEY

Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) offers a lot of services for students at Conestoga College, but now they’re setting their sights abroad.

At a board of directors meeting on Jan. 28, members discussed a variety of benefits aimed at making education more affordable for international students. Among those were four new financial awards worth a total of $15,000. These awards recognize international students who excel in a variety of areas, including academics, athletics, leadership and contributing to the Conestoga community through volunteerism and being involved outside the classroom. Winners of these awards will receive a certificate at CSI’s annual awards banquet, which will take place later this semester. Students will be able to apply for these awards through the general application, which can be found on the Student Portal.

Along with these awards, CSI has been working with the International Education Office to potentially include international students in the CSI health plan. While all students are required to have some form of health insurance during their time at Conestoga, international and domestic students have been under different plans. The international office provides health insurance through guard.me, an insurance provider based in Thornhill, Ont. On the other hand, for domestic students, CSI provides a health plan for all full-time fee paying students automatically through student fees.

At the board meeting, Jeff Scherer, CSI president, noted that the international office was also interested in the possibility of having all students under one single health plan. However, he added that the international office wanted to ensure that this process doesn’t make it more expensive for international students, whose student fees are already significantly higher than what domestic students have to pay.

Scherer said CSI was in the process of selecting a new insurance provider, and would discuss including international students in the plan as soon as a company was hired.

The board discussed a lot of other issues as well. This included the long-awaited opening of the new Athletics and Recreation Centre and, along with it, another food option for students. CSI is working with the college to fund and develop the new facility, which will include a triple gym, a 200-metre running track and an expanded fitness area. But the facility will also include a Pita Pit, which will be owned and managed by CSI. Witzel said the Pita Pit will be opening on the same day as the rec centre, which, according to Mike Dinning, vice-president of student affairs at the college, will be on Feb. 22.

“We’re going to do our best to have it open that day,” Witzel said. “That’s our target date.”

Along with being another place to eat on campus, it might soon be another place to have a pint too. The Sanctuary is currently the only place on campus where students can consume alcoholic beverages, but Witzel said CSI is also attempting to do the same for the Pita Pit. At the very least, they are attempting to make it a reality for the grand opening.
“We’re trying to make it a licensed event,” said Witzel.

The rec centre and Pita Pit are part of a larger partnership CSI has formed with the athletics and recreation department. Witzel said CSI is looking to do marketing for the department to help build school spirit. They hope to provide jobs for students who would promote athletics at Conestoga.

Along with these announcements, the board also approved a slight increase in the technology enhancement fee for students next year. The fee goes toward keeping computer software, equipment and services up-to-date, according to the Conestoga College website. The fee will be increasing by 9 per cent and will be primarily going toward hiring additional staff at the Cambridge, Waterloo and Guelph campuses. Janie Renwick, general manager at CSI, said although it’s a significant increase, it is what IT Services needs to improve their service.

“It costs money to keep on top of technology trends,” she said. “It’s not free.”

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