By Shirley Lin
Former members of the community service groups (CSG) are rallying against the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) in a campaign to restore their funding, fearing that some budget cuts will hurt them in delivering services to students.
“Our main goal is to restore adequate funding to the service groups so that services can be decent for the students,” said Jesse Trautmann, who started the campaign early September. The Drop-Fees, Not CSGs campaign also wants the assistant positions to be reverted back to coordinators so they have more to do campaigns and events.
The budget’s biggest change regarding CSG was cuts to their wages ranging up to 50 per cent, with RyePride being cut by about 67 per cent. The Working Students’ Centre (WSC) was hit the hardest with cuts of more than 75 per cent, although staff was reduced to one part-time employee from three last year.
“Last year we felt that we were underfunded, but now they’re just cutting even more,” says Karen Warren, who was with the Women’s Centre last year and joined the campaign. The duo says that the RSU has the money, yet is cutting it’s total budget by 36 per cent.
Toby Whitfield, VP finance and services, said that salaries were cut back because the RSU didn’t receive funding from the government for workstudy this summer. As a result, no summer staff were hired this year to ensure that spending was in line. Only the Community Food Room was opened for the summer and a six-week RyePride position was hired for the Pride Parade events.
Ashley Mathew, who worked at the Women’s Centre, said that the $10 wage work-study job wasn’t enough for the hours of work she put in. This year, RSU work-study positions are at $10.75.
“Students aren’t going to notice a difference this year, the services are still there,” said Whitfield. “Their funding is where it needs to be. They’ll still get funding for events, promotions, operations and resources.”
Compared to last year’s budget, the funding for them remained relatively the same, except for RyePride that saw about $3,000 less, whereas Women’s Centre had $650 less. But RyeAccess had $400 more to in their budget.
At times the RSU has received funding from Human Resources Development Canada. Typically they apply for about six or eight, but Whitfield says this year the RSU only got funding for one and a half positions. Normally, the RSU budgets around $5,000 to $6,000 for summer wages.
“So we’ve basically reduced staff all across, but we are still able to keep services open in the summer and keep things running,” Whitfield said.