Members of Ryerson’s administration have voiced their doubts about the Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) alternative budget.
The RSU presented their alternative budget to a preliminary context meeting to the Board of Governors on March 30.
They were invited, for the first time, to present their budget to the finance committee and Board of Governors budgetary voting meeting.
RSU’s vice-president education, Jesse Root, addressed the board as students packed into the crowded board room, holding “Freeze the Fees” signs to show their support.
Root presented a few central points from the RSU’s alternative budget, including its recommendations to freeze tuition fees, reduce “bloated” administrative costs and provide students with better access to funding.
President Sheldon Levy’s response echoed his previous comments on the RSU’s budget.
He also mentioned that he did not know the RSU would be presenting its budget at the meeting, and as a result he said he wasn’t prepared to respond in full.
“That’s unfair,” Root, told The Ryersonian after the meeting. “There really should have been no surprises. He would have received the board docket, just like the other board members.”
“It was just an attempt to kind of make us look bad.”
However, Levy did say the university’s high consulting costs are the result of Ryerson’s several recent building projects.
Those include the Image Arts Centre and the new Student Learning Centre, where architects, lawyers, and other professionals involved in the projects were budgeted as outside consultants.
Levy also said that Ryerson’s administrative costs are roughly at the provincial average.
He said that the amount of money the university receives per student is one of the lowest in the province, partly due to a lack of provincial funding.
Deputy provost and vice-provost, university planning, Paul Stenton, also spoke to the board. He emphasized overall low rates of net tuition, and the financial strain that a fee freeze would put on the university — an alleged loss of tens of millions of dollars.
Root offered board members an opportunity to sit down with him one-on-one to go over the alternative budget and ask questions.
He said he hopes they take him up on his offer.
“Of course, I want these recommendations to be approved and I think they’re good and valuable and create a system that works better for everyone,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the decision lies in their hands.”
Root says the context meeting, held in advance of the board’s final budget vote, was a great conversation starter.
“It’s something new and exciting and gives us an opportunity to get student support over the next month,” said Root after the meeting.
“Ultimately, this document is meant to start a conversation about priorities and accountability on campus and if we’ve done that, I’m going to be happy.”
Prior to the meeting, dozens of students joined the students’ union for a march down Gould Street to Jorgenson Hall, the location of the Board of Governors meeting.