CESAR executives admit to years of overspending and reveal plans to slash funding in an attempt to curb the problem. News Editor Rebecca Burton reports
After years of increased spending and inflated budgets, the Continuing Education Students Association at Ryerson (CESAR), is now being forced to cope with its operating deficit by restructuring and slashing expenses.
“People haven’t been managing our money well in the past,” said CESAR president Dominic Wong. “They have just seen increasing numbers and [as a result] continued to increase the budget.”
Currently, full-time students who are enrolled in classes offered by the G. Raymond Chang School for Continuing Education totalling a minimum of 31 hours have been paying the $11.28 levy to CESAR.
This double charging of both Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) fees plus part-time fees has recently come to the attention of administration through numerous complaints from students, which has pushed CESAR to consider eliminating it.
Keith Alnwick, registrar for the university, said he was unaware of these changes. But Wong confirmed that it was the administration that came to CESAR with the complaints.
Wong said he doesn’t know why the problem has suddenly occurred, as the fee has been collected “probably forever.”
Close to 10 per cent of the approximately $913,000 in student fees collected will be cut due to the change.
The decision to restructure the budget and implement a number of changes to their by-laws came at the Nov. 15 annual general meeting.
Caitlin Smith, president of the RSU, said she had no prior knowledge of this because neither CESAR nor the university has communicated this possible change to student fees.
“We have been reducing all expenses and, for the first time, actually getting sponsorship from the university for some large events,” said Wong in an email.
“We have run huge deficits for the past couple years and are hoping to get that under control. We project a small deficit this year, despite great efforts to balance the budget,” he wrote.
The largest expenses in the budget include approximately $350,000 towards salaries, wages and benefits that accounted for five full-time staff last year but has since decreased to three.
All members are currently unionized and Wong said that cutting their salaries would have to be done at the bargaining table.
“Other than that, there’s nothing else we can do,” said Wong.
The board, which currently includes 12 members, accounts for approximately $87,000, but will be cut in the next fiscal year.
Affiliate groups have been asked to cut their budgets. In the case of the Ryerson Free Press, which operates on approximately $80,000 annually, the requested cuts amount to nearly half the budget, said current editor-in-chief Nora Loreto.
“We are published by a students’ union that is unfamiliar with the student press industry,” she said.
All Ryerson Free Press editors will also be put on contract that will require them to reapply after the year has ended, introducing competition into the process.
Wong said it is something they have overlooked in the past and editors have been quitting and joining as they please.
“We want to reduce wasteful spending and we will be restructuring as well. Membership has passed a whole new set of by-laws,” said Wong.