The student union endures $275,000 funding cut, mainly due to Student Choice Initiative
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) expects to receive $2.5 million this year — a 9.8 per cent decrease from last year’s $2.7 million budget.
The RSU approved its budget for the 2019-20 academic year during a board of directors’ meeting held at the end of September. This year, under new rules initiated by Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government, Ryerson students had the choice to opt out from the RSU’s non-essential fee of $24.44 that goes to support student groups, course unions and services. As a result, Ford’s Student Choice Initiative created a 4.9 per cent ($124,000) budget deficit for RSU, with the remainder of the deficit generated from a lack of Career Boost Funding and lost revenue from CopyRITE Printing Service.
According to the RSU’s budget report, it received $406,000 from approximately 16,612 students — nearly two-thirds of the student population — who chose to opt in to the fee. Due to the budget cut, the RSU will spend only $2.2 million this year, which is 16.7 per cent less than last year’s expenditures. Students should expect to see dramatic funding cuts to student campus groups, office and administration services , educational issues, advocacy and more. In particular, student campus groups are receiving 20 per cent less funding, from $415,587 to $330,100. This will have a major impact on groups such as the Oakham House Choir, which may have to disband by the end of the school year. The group will receive 20 per cent of the funds it used to get. The choir received $27,600 last year. At this time, it can no longer afford to rehearse in Oakham House without support from the RSU. The group will try to fundraise and find a new rehearsal venue to stay afloat.
“Obviously, it’s very sad since the student group budget has been cut,” RSU’s vice-president of student life and events Joshua Wiggins said. “We’re trying to really work to make sure we are supporting them through our budget cuts, making sure they collaborate, making sure that when they are throwing events, it’s under the career services essential line.”
In terms of raises, Wiggins said the RSU has increased funding for “essential items,” such as equity centres including RyePRIDE, RyeACCESS, and the Centre for Women and Trans People. For instance, equity and sustainability issues saw a 56 per cent increase this year, from $72,789 to $114,000, in a bid to hire more staff and undertake new projects. Equity service groups saw an increase of 51 per cent from $162,650 to $247,000, the bulk of it going toward equity service centre wages.
“The government deems whether it’s essential or non-essential. So essential events would be athletics, carreer services, academic, campus safety, black history month and Holocaust awareness week. Non-essential events would be things like socials, fundraisers, or things of that nature,” Wiggins said.
“We have definitely seen a raise in essential things; all of our equity centers are essential, so obviously more money is put into those things because they are essential. Non-essential things are like student group salaries and the budget for student groups, deemed by the government. So we will obviously see cuts to those,” he added.