By Wendy Glauser
Applications for RyeSAC bursaries last semester doubled to about 700, while the number of $500 awards available remained at 15.
Dave MacLean, who sits on RyeSAC’s Board of Directors, said RyeSAC would be able to give out at least double the number of bursaries if they weren’t “spending so much time protesting the world.”
Last year RyeSAC spent $300,000 on protests, MacLean said. He would rather see this money given back to students through bursaries.
But RyeSAC President Darren Cooney said their protests, which are often against rising tuition and rent costs, are meant to address the root causes of financial need among students.
“I can’t remember the last time we’ve taken part in a demonstration that didn’t have to do with tuition and academic interests,” he said.
Cooney and MacLean, along with other RyeSAC members, read through piles of student pleas for money last semester. Cooney said the stores were “heart-wrenching,” and MacLean said some applicants’ situations were “the worst you can think of.”
The $500 bursary is open to full-time Ryerson students with a minimum GPA of 2.67. Cooney said last years’ recipients were in need of at least $8,000.
But with 700 applications, a demonstration of need isn’t enough, said MacLean.
MacLean said he’s more likely to sympathize with a student who took out OSAP, than with someone who wrote, “I just didn’t feel like applying for OSAP.”
Students who had full-time summer jobs are also generally given preference over those who didn’t work.
But a student could lie and say they had a full-time job, or that they applied for OSAP, or that they were $15,000 in need, and still get the $500 from RyeSAC.
“There’s no way to say this person’s lying or this person’s telling the truth,” MacLean said.
It is illegal for RyeSAC to look at the applicant’s bank statements.
Those actually in need of financial assistance should hunt down other Ryerson bursaries too as well, MacLean said, adding that he applied for a Ryerson bursary last year that awards $500 to $4000 every month based on need.
MacLean applied at the beginning of the month and got $500 at the end of the month. He said he didn’t expect any more than that, as he just wanted a “little help.”
Many Ryerson bursaries have few applicants, because the bursaries aren’t highly publicized, which, MacLean said, ensures that those who do apply deserve the money.
“The people who really want and need a bursary are really going to search for it,” MacLean said.