By Scott Roberts
After running an operating surplus of nearly $200,000 last year, RyeSAC is going on a social events spending spree.
The student administrative council is planning to spend $215,735 on social events this year. that figure is nearly eight times what the organization spent on events last year.
“We decided to make a push for social events spending this year to try and increase school spirit,” said Derek Isber, RyeSAC’s vice president student life and events. “If students start getting involved in campus activities now, they may be more involved later in life [as alumni].”
Isber said much of the extra social events funding is being used to create more weekly pub nights at the Ram in the Rye, which RyeSAC operates. He points to Rye Idol, Dirty Bingo and Queer Nights as three of the new pub programs.
Isber also said a substantial amount went into beefing up Frosh Week events and to hiring an events coordinator.
RyeSAC is also planning a second Week of Welcome in January and a bigger and better Rye Fest in April.
“We’re going to try and put on a big concert in January and we’ll have DJs and bands at Rye Fest in April,” said Isber.
Anjela Wilson, a second-year journalism student and varsity volleyball player, thinks RyeSAC needs to broaden its social events planning beyond bar nights.
“They should be working to get more fans out to games and make athletics a focus [for school spirit],” she said.
Wilson dismissed the commuter phenomenon, often blamed for the failure of campus activities, as the sole reason for Ryerson’s lack of school spirit.
“I think RyeSAC needs to get the word out and start advertising their events more effectively,” said Wilson. “I think that if commuters knew about some of these events in advance they’d be more inclined to stick around campus and get involved.”
Social events aren’t the only area RyeSAC is splurging on this year. The council has also more than doubled its campaigns and lobbying fund, which as ballooned to $54,768 this year.
RyeSAC has been criticized in the past for focusing too much of its attention on lobbying. Last year, Sajjad Wasti, former vice president finance and services, resigned after calling RyeSAC “corrupt and nepotistic.”
Wasti said RyeSAC was putting the interests of the Canadian Federation of Students before the needs of Ryerson students.
But current vice president finance and services Mike Verticchio said RyeSAC campaigns on behalf of its rate-paying members.
“A key part of what we do is lobbying and campaigning for students,” he said. “For example, last year we lobbied to get students a discount on TTC passes, which we were successful at. We’ve already saved students over $250,000, [Those who criticize] what we spend on lobbying aren’t seeing the bigger picture.”
RyeSAC’s spending spree is the result of n abnormally large surplus of $190,808 on a total budget of $1.2 million, carried over from last year. The council was caught off guard by a substantial influx of new students and higher-than-expected service revenues.
The figures have some students wondering why RyeSAC would carry a surplus at all. Kyle Lawson, a 20-year-old student at Nipissing University, attended Ryerson last year and says the money should have been spent on something.
“I don’t think it’s right that every student paid their dues and RyeSAC turns around and carries the money over,” he said. “I’m not coming back to Ryerson. I’m wondering why my membership fees weren’t spent when I was there.”
Verticchio defended RyeSAC, saying all membership fees are eventually spent.
“We don’t have a crystal ball and we cant predict exactly how many students will attend or how much our services will profit,” he said, referring to the surplus. “We’ve got to budget conservatively. We can’t just spend $190,000 for the sake of it.”
RyeSAC is spending virtually all of last year’s surplus this year. other areas receiving substantial funding increases include campus and community service groups. RyeSAC’s administration costs have also risen.