On October 3, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Services Committee voted to stop printing International Student Identity Cards (ISICs) out of the UTSU office. ISICs are a form of student ID available in Canada through the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
The motion was moved by UTSU President Mathias Memmel, who argued that the service was an “inefficient use of labour hours given that students are able to do it online,” according to the meeting minutes.
UTSU Vice-President Internal Daman Singh wrote to The Varsity that “the infrastructure for making and printing ISIC cards was terribly outdated and would often be broken.”
“The process of printing a single ISIC card would take up a substantial amount of time for our front-line workers, and the labour costs of printing ISICs was simply not worth keeping the service,” Singh explained.
UTSU Vice-President External Anne Boucher echoed Singh’s statements, calling the CFS servers, required to print ISICs, “absolute garbage.”
“It just makes sense to get rid of something unreliable and inaccessible when a reliable and accessible version of it becomes available,” Boucher said.
In the meeting minutes, Memmel further stated that he found it “interesting” that the CFS would allow ISICs to be purchased online “given the CFS’s stance on the accessibility of online voting.” The UTSU has long criticized the CFS’ unwillingness to allow students to vote online in referenda on matters such as defederation.
“It’s nice to see the CFS is beginning to see the value in online platforms,” said Boucher. “I hope this will translate over to online voting — otherwise, it would be morally inconsistent on their part.”
ISICs provide students with “discounts in Canada and around the world and [demonstrate] you’re a full-time student (which is handy when people don’t recognize your student card),” according to the CFS’ website. The cards are available for free as a benefit of membership in the CFS.
In 2016, the UTSU released a report on the CFS that criticized the organization of overstating the value of ISICs.
The report stated that, in theory, the cards grant access to student discounts, but in reality do not provide a tangible benefit above standard student IDs. “There are few, if any, discounts available only to students who have ISICs,” according to the report.
An audit of a secret CFS bank account revealed that the account received payments titled “International Student Identity Card applicant.” The account has also been linked to a travel company that distributes the cards.
The CFS did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.