By Jesse McLean
Rampant overspending and a lack of communication has led the Ryerson Students’ Union to spend close to $200,000 over its budget.
President Nora Loreto predicts the union’s legal and “frivilous” event expenses will continue, leading the RSU into its first deficit since the 2004-2005 academic year.
“We’ve worked really hard [over the past three years] to cut costs, running on a shoe-string budget,” Loreto said. “But considering how people in this office like to spend, I would be surprised if we end up in the black.”
Although VP Finance Chris Drew said the overspending has short-changed the union’s surplus, he says the budget will correct itself by year’s end.
The budget, which covers revenues and expenses up to Jan. 31, reveals the union has coughed up nearly $30,000 over 17 legal grievances, double the amount allocated in the year’s budget.
“There have been at least two grievances filed since then, and we’re going into collective bargaining soon, so the spending’s not done,” Loreto said.
Chris Drew says despite overspending, the budget is on the right track.
Other areas of overspending include the fall Week of Welcome — which cost $15,000 more than the budgeted $10,000 — and Orientation Week, which had $5,698 in expenses, despite not being in the budget.
Loreto said VP Student Life and Events Ibrahim (Abe) Snobar, who oversaw the events, spends the “RSU’s money like it’s (his) own.”
However, Snobar denounced the claims, adding that he has never been approached by either Loreto or VP Finance Chris Drew for his use of funds.
“I knew I was going to overspend on the Week of Welcome, but I only did that because I knew I made the money through other ways,” Snobar said, referring to the $40,000-plus he says he raised from corporate partnerships.
Heather Kere, VP education, has been criticized for her alleged lack of adherence to the budget. By the end of January, the Kere-headed Anti-Apartheid Week spent twice the budgeted amount of $800 — and several expenses are still coming in from the February event.
In comparison, none of the allocated money for Anti-Racism and Rebel Students campaigns have been used.
However, Kere said she is working within the budget. In 2004-2005, then RSU President Dave MacLean left the union with a deficit of $700,000 after low turnouts at the Parade and Picnic and other events.