Budget wars looming

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By Eric Martyn 

The tension between RyeSAC and Ryerson administration is growing as the spectre of a $4 million to $6 million budget cut hangs over the campus.

Looking for budget cuts made in the guise of an academic decision, RyeSAC president odelia Bay repeatedly asked during an academic council meeting last week if each motion was a cost cutting measure.

“Do these course deletions have to do with the budget?” asked Bay about the motion to delete two courses from the business management program.

“I would say in general that we want to make an intellectual distinction between what motivates a change,” responded Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse.

He assured Bay the decisions before council were academically justified and not motivated by the budget. The motions would not endanger the quality of education at Ryerson.

Undeterred, Bay continued to ask the motivation behind each change.

“Have any course changes been made because of budget restraints?” asked Bay before voting on curriculum changes to the school of interior design.

The role of academic council is to assess the academic integrity of motions; the council is no empowered to make budget cuts. Bay is concerned the council could be making budget decisions and not academic ones.

“It’s clear that the budget issues in universities are having an impact on our curriculum and we should be aware of that,” said Bay after the meeting.

“We should be aware of why the issues are being brought forward. Decisions around academic matters are being forced because of budget restrictions.”

In December, the council approved a reduction in course hours and changes to the curriculum in the faculties of journalism, image arts and graphic communication management. The changes when made in reaction to a 3.7 per cent across-the-board budget cut.

The university is currently looking for ways to cut $4 million to $6 million from next year’s budget. A discussion paper from the office of the vice president forecasts continued cuts of at least $2.6 million in 2003-2004 and $2.2 million in 2004-2005.

Lajuenesse said that this year’s budget cuts will be mandated to avoid an across-the-board cut. Last year, every program at Ryerson took a hit.

“This year we’re telling people that we’ve got to understand when (their budget) is now,” Lajuenesse said. “Then some people may get more money and others may got less.”

The president delivers his State of the University Address next Monday, January 28.

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