By Danielle Vandenbrink
Jeremy Salter loves working for students — no matter what school they go to.
The president of the Continuing Education Students’ Association at Ryerson (CESAR) has taken a full-time job as the executive director for the York Federation of Students. And the move is raising questions about whether he has time to fulfill his responsibility to Ryerson’s 64,000 registered continuing education students.
“I would question whether he spread himself to thin and I would question if he would be able to advocate on behalf of full-time students,” former CESAR president and board member Vaughn Berkeley said.
He continued that he “won’t speculate to where (CESAR) is going or what hand basket it’s in.” For Salter, 28, taking on both jobs isn’t a problem.“I needed a full time job,” he said. “I wanted to work with a student’s union and the timing was right.”
Salter currently takes one continuing education class at Ryerson, which he is required to do in the CESAR by-laws. He said he works about 40 hours a week at York, and then commutes an hour and a half to Ryerson in the evenings.
At CESAR, Salter said he only makes about $1,500 a month and added “you can’t live off that.” Salter declined to disclose his York salary. The Eyeopener has obtained The Association of Managers in Canadian College, University and Student Centres’ salary survey of 2003.
Of 56 student unions, the salary average of the executive director was 49,100. For CESAR, he said he puts in about 20 hours per week, primarily in the evening and on weekends.
“The students are there from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. everyday, and that’s the times I’m there,” he said. Salter insists he has no problem handling both jobs, and he adds that all members of the CESAR executive have full-time jobs.
“It’s a part-time position and it’s not meant to pull you out,” he said. Ryerson Students’ Union executives do not take on full-time job while representing full-time undergraduate students.
As for a conflict of interest, Salter said this is also a non-issue. “Student unions don’t compete. It’s not like there’s a possibility of trading stock secrets.” However, Neil Thomlinson, chair of Ryerson’s politics department, said that Salter should resign his position as president of CESAR. “(CESAR) would have to ask who (Salter) is representing: York University or Ryerson University.” said Thomlinson. “As some would say, you can’t serve two masters.”
There is currently no by-law preventing a CESAR executive from holding another position in another student union or association. But Thomlinson believes such a rule should exist and state that anybody who holds a paid or elected position with any other student union or association would be ineligible.
“If he worked in the bookstore, no one would care, but if he worked at the RSU people would care,” Thomlinson said. Salter said that he’s been very open with his colleagues at both the YFS and CESAR and that there has never been a concern on their behalf.
This isn’t the first time Salter has taken on two student union positions at once in two different schools.
Last year Salter held the position of Policy Director at the YSF, and in 2005 he ran for the executive vice-president position at Centennial College Student Association but was turned down.
“I love working for students, so when the opportunity came I took it,” said Salter. Salter plans on fulfilling his term as president until April, and Vaughn Berkeley knows what he would like to see in the new elections.
“I would like to see some continuing education students elected, it would take the organization back to the grass roots … getting back to the people.”