Arts students head to referendum on new society

Corrections: A previous version of this story incorrectly noted the date of the referendums and the amount of the proposed Ryerson Science Society levy. The referendums begin on Nov. 2, not Nov. 3. The levy is $45 annually, not $50.

Faculty of Arts

Voting for both societies’ referendums will run from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5 through students’ RAMSS accounts. (Angelyn Francis / Ryersonian Staff)

Ryerson’s Board of Governors gave students the go-ahead to start the Ryerson Arts Society (RAS) and hold a referendum so they can collect money from students to fund it.

The RAS will be a faculty society representing students in arts programs across the university.

“I’m really excited about connecting and engaging the faculty,” said Marzia Riaz, a third-year psychology student and chair of the RAS steering committee.

Arts students will vote in November on whether or not to pay the new society an annual $60 levy ($30 per semester), which will be increased with inflation. Meanwhile the Ryerson Science Society, which met with the Board of Governors last April, will be holding a referendum at the same time asking its students for a $45 annual levy.

“Students feel that the fee is fair and that down the road it gives them benefits,” Riaz said. “They recognize the need for this … it’s a new community, it’s a sense of pride and a source of reputation for students, which we don’t have.”

According to Riaz, students’ reaction to the new society has been positive. She and the seven other students on the steering committee conducted a survey of just under 300 students in which the majority were in favour of the new society.

Based on last year’s 2014-15 enrolment numbers, 4,030 undergraduate students are in the Faculty of Arts. If the numbers are similar next year, RAS would collect a total of nearly $245,000 from arts students if enough students vote yes.

According to the presentation delivered to the Board of Governors, these funds would be used towards student group and course union funding, orientation week, special projects funding and conferences.

Riaz said that the RAS will follow a similar structure as the societies for the faculties of commerce, engineering, and communication and design. There will be a board of directors made up of representatives from each of the 11 arts programs to ensure that “their voice is heard” and that funds are used fairly, Riaz said.

Earlier this year, questions were asked when the Ryerson Communication and Design Society’s (RCDS) board of directors granted $20,000 to fund a film project spearheaded by Luke Villemaire, its vice-president of finance. RCDS says Villemaire abstained from the deciding vote and that the money was granted because it would connect more than 50 students across the faculty. Debate still broke out, however, with people calling the decision a conflict of interest. RCDS collects a levy of the same amount per semester as the proposed RAS levy.

Both Riaz and the Ryerson Science Society president, Ana Sofia Vargas Garza, said this shouldn’t be an issue with the new societies.

Voting for both societies’ referendums will run from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5 through students’ RAMSS accounts.

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