By Michael Deruyter
Three per cent is what separates Ryerson unions and President Sheldon Levy.
Levy declined to sign a pledge of unity with Ryerson unions that guaranteed no budget cuts would take place for the 2010-11 school year at a town hall meeting on Feb. 24.
In January, the entire school was told to slash three per cent from their operating budgets.
A coalition including the Ryerson Students’ Union and the Ryerson Faculty Association, hosted the meeting. They urged Levy to consider taking the school into a time-limited deficit to avoid the cuts.
“My lack of signing does not show lack of interest,” he said above the growing murmurs of the crowd. “But I can’t sign something that says there will be no cuts.”
After the meeting, Levy said he hadn’t been prepped about the pledge before the meeting.
“I think that if someone wanted a whole group to sign a document it would have been logical to have it worked out in advance, not just given to you on the fly,” he said.
He said while he agreed with some parts of the pledge, it would be irresponsible for him to promise no cuts. Levy also said he was not opposed to working with the unions to develop a pledge they could all sign, but had not been approached by anyone.
The meeting painted a bleak picture of the state of Ryerson’s finances, with union heads explaining that everything from the library to custodial staff suffers from severe underfunding.
Levy added that one per cent of the budget will be reallocated for “issues of fairness” to ensure no department is too affected by the cuts.
“The three per cent cut will have a decidedly detrimental impact on students,” said Anveer Salojee, president of the RFA.
Mohammed Ali Aumeer, president of the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR), said he is dissapointed with Levy’s decision not to sign the pledge.
“We need him to sign it and students want him to sign it,” said Aumeer.
He said students are writing letters to Levy.