By Sandie Benitah
The Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson is planning to ask its students if they are willing to find their own bursaries.
In a school-wide referendum, CESAR will ask students to vote on paying an additional two dollars for each class they take.
The money would then go towards funding bursaries for part-time students, a group disadvantaged when it comes to receiving financial assistance, according to CESAR General Manager Frank Cappadocia.
“Part-time students can’t get OSAP and it’s hard for them to get the university bursary because then they are competing in the same pool as the full-timers who also have needs,” he said.
Cappadocia said roughly 55,000 students at Ryerson are registered in continuing education courses and take about two classes a semester.
About 4,000 of those enrolled in a part-time degree which could demand up to five classes a semester, depending on whether or not the student wants to fast-track.
Altogether, Cappadocia said CESAR would rake in at least $110,000 in bursary money if the levy is approved.
Darren Cooney, president of RyeSAC, said that while he agrees that giving money to needy students is a good thing, he is critical of the way it is being administered.
“A student government taking on the role of the university’s financial aid office is problematic,” he said. “They have to find a balance between helping students and not getting them an increase in tuition fees.”
However, Cappadocia said the circumstances are different for continuing education students.
“Unlike full-time students, the majority of continuing education students are full-time workers, making over $40,000 a year,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean that they’re rich, but it means they can agree to a request to meet students who are on the other side of spectrum.”
Kim Kielly, who is taking a few classes on law procedures while working full-time, said she would have to consider her own financial need before she could consider helping others.
“We’re all in financial need,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t reap any of the rewards. I have to work full-time to go to university. We do what we have to do to survive.”
Les Tager, who also works full-time while working towards a part-time degree in social work, couldn’t disagree more.
“Education should be free in the first place,” she said. “I’ve been in that situation before and in fact, I’m still paying off my student loan. Why not help someone in need?”
“It’s only a couple of bucks,” agreed Dave Howell, who is taking two classes this semester. “It goes towards helping somebody and if everybody does it… sure, why not?”
Presently, bursaries do exist through CESAR for part-time students with a financial need, said Cappadocia. The money from the levy would either go towards maximizing the amount awarded or to increase the amount of bursaries distributed.
Before CESAR can finalize the details of the proposal, it must wait for the Board of Governor’s meeting at the end of the month where they will put forth their proposal. If it is approved, CESAR will ask the students in a referendum that could take place as early as the last week in February.