Ryerson FCAD students to cough up cash, or not


Brian Hui and PoojaRamaswamy of the Ryerson Communication and Design Society. (Mohamed Omar/Ryersonian Staff).

The petition to create and fund a new student society for the Faculty of Communication and Design has gotten its “vote no” camp.

FCAD Save Your Money, a group promoting itself online and with posters on campus, is asking the faculty’s students to vote no in a referendum that, if passed, would secure the Ryerson Communication and Design Society (RCDS) an annual allowance of $60 from each student in FCAD starting September 2014.

RCDS wants to provide FCAD’s course unions with more funding and give its students more opportunities for intra-faculty collaboration, but it needs the financial support to do that, according to two members involved with the society’s creation.

“Our schools don’t really collaborate. People within the schools are mostly siloed within their own school buildings,” said Brian Hui, a fourth-year graphics and communications management student who sits on RCDS’s steering committee.

“This is really an opportunity for students to come together within one umbrella organization and through that be able to interact with each other, participate in more interdisciplinary projects and collaborate much, much more than what is currently happening.”

The opposition, which has been spreading its message with a website, social media accounts and physical posters, is represented off-line by second-year journalism student Tari Ngangura. She thinks FCAD students shouldn’t have to shell out an extra $60 for opportunities that are already available.

“It’s a lazy way to try and get people involved on campus, because there are many groups on campus that have been around for decades that don’t require people to pay an amount to be a part of their club,” said Ngangura, who added that her group is comprised of a “couple of friends” of hers.

But it’s the issue of course unions that truly splits the two sides into their respective yes and no campaigns.

Hui, along with fellow steering committee member and fourth-year interior design student Pooja Ramaswamy, said course unions don’t receive enough money from their breadwinner, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), adding that any granted funds are “fairly small in the grand scheme of things.”

As a remedy, Hui said RCDS would pour funding back into student groups and course unions to expand on what they currently get from the RSU — up to two $500 grants per semester, according to RSU president Melissa Palermo.

In a sample budget provided to Ryerson’s Board of Governors, RCDS allocated $100,000 out of approximately $245,000 to funding student groups and course unions.

But most of that money would come from outside the school, Ramaswamy said.

“Part of our money is coming from student funding and then we’re going to be reaching out to corporate sponsors to actually either match or raise the rest of the funding,” she said.

But Ngangura believes in course unions, too, enough to say, “If anything needs to be done,” it can, and should, be done through the course unions.

“Course unions can come together within their faculties and try to come up with ideas to do whatever they want to do, without creating a society,” she said.

Ngangura’s group is also concerned with how FCAD students would be represented at RCDS, which has already filled executive positions such as a marketing co-ordinator, a president, and vice-presidents of marketing and finance, according to Hui.

He said FCAD students would elect a board of directors in the winter, but already-elected executives would stay on to avoid a loss of leadership.

Hui hopes RCDS’s collaboration initiatives would culminate in an annual magnum opus, a year-end faculty-wide arts bash.

It’s a pricey event that Ngangura thinks students can do without.

“Programs already have that and the university pays for those festivals,” she said.

“I don’t see why we should pay for what the university already seeks to pay for.”

Although Palermo said the RSU has no stance on the referendum, she also said the union hopes the group is “student-led and student-focused.”

Hui’s RCDS, with a $15,000 kickstart from FCAD, and Ngangura’s camp will continue to push for support until the vote on Nov. 4 to 7.

“Right now we have some money for our campaign,” Hui said, “and it looks like the other side does too.”

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