RSU one step closer to new student levy

RSU members attend the union's semi-annual general meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13. (Mohamed Omar / Ryersonian Staff)

RSU members attend the union’s semi-annual general meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13. (Mohamed Omar / Ryersonian Staff)

Ryerson students could be heading to the polls soon to vote on a new campus-wide levy.

At the Ryerson Students’ Union’s semi-annual general meeting Wednesday, a motion calling for a referendum on a Student Life levy was carried with little debate.

The motion, moved by the RSU’s vice-president student life and events Danielle Brogan, was nudged up the agenda to be voted on earlier in the meeting.

The vote gave the RSU the green light to approach Ryerson’s Board of Governors to request a referendum. If passed, the levy’s funds would go toward supporting campus groups, the sexual assault survivor support line, equity service centres like the Community Food Room and a travel grant service for graduate students.

No amount has been set for the levy, but RSU president Melissa Palermo said it would be reached through discussions with students and announced with the referendum.

The most hotly contested motion at Wednesday’s meeting also had to do with student groups. Mohammad Nazir Amir’s motion called for removing limits on spending allocations for student groups, which receive around $1,200 from the RSU every year.

Each student group or course union gets specific budgets from that money. For example, a student group can only receive a maximum $225 for advertising and $450 for social events from the RSU annually. If the budget for social events is exhausted, a student group cannot funnel leftover cash from other portions of its total budget into pub nights or karaoke contests.

“(Allocation limits) should be up to student groups and their members, not something they should be bound to,” Nazir Amir said.

Nazir Amir’s motion obliterates that project-specific spending.

Mitch Reiss opposed the motion, saying that the allocation limit prevents groups from overspending on specific events.

“The purpose of the spending limits is to encourage student groups to have a diverse amount of activities,” Reiss said.

Palermo made an amendment that would throw the motion to a policy review committee, but after the night’s longest and possibly only significant debate, the amendment was defeated and the motion carried.

Eight out of 10 motions were carried, with two pulled after being ruled out of order.

Here’s a breakdown of the successful motions:

  • Muslim students now have room 115 in the Student Campus Centre reserved for prayer space every Friday from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
  • The RSU will conduct a survey to determine the need for gender-specific hours at Ryerson’s athletic facilities, as well as lobby for improved access for women to those facilities.
  • The union will research Ryerson University’s purchasing practices. It will lobby the Board of Governors to adopt a policy prohibiting the school from purchasing products from “organizations known, or found to be using sweatshop labour of any form.”
  • The RSU will consult students on Ryerson’s Academic Plan for 2014-2019 and develop a submission for the school.
  • In partnership with the Faculty of Communication and Design’s new internship committee, the RSU will work to ensure that Ryerson students work in paid and fair internships. The union will continue to work with advocates across the province “with the ultimate goal of banning unpaid internships that should otherwise be paid, as outlined in the Employment Standards Act.”
  • Finally, the RSU will lobby the Ryerson administration to remove the $70 deferral fee, which is slapped on a student’s tuition if he or she splits payments into fall and winter semester instalments. For at least the past two years, this issue has been on the election platform of Students United, the RSU’s reigning slate.

The union’s general meeting takes place in April.

With files from Diana Hall

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