By Jake Scott
The alternative budget made by the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) will be reviewed by the finance committee March 24, but it isn’t impressing Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.
“The RSU budget is not possible because the money isn’t ours to take back,” Levy said.
The RSU’s alternative budget states that Ryerson makes a “surplus” of $30.7 million each year – $6.3 million of which could be used to freeze tuition fees. Ryerson released a statement refuting the money as a surplus, instead calling it savings.
“If we didn’t have savings every year, we would never have the Student Learning Centre (SLC), never have the Student [Campus] Centre, wouldn’t have the new health sciences building, we wouldn’t have anything,” Levy said.
“The money that they’re calling ‘available’ is in multiple pockets … faculty members’ research accounts, the faculty members’ professional allowance … another group of money is what the university has to save on an annual basis because we have to purchase land.”
Ryerson’s provost, Mohamed Lachemi, also said using $6.3 million from the savings – or surplus – pool wouldn’t solve rising tuition costs.
“My reaction to that is that it’s not doable or we would do it,” said Lachemi in an interview with The Eyeopener March 10.
Jesse Root, vice-president education for the RSU, disagrees with this and with the nature of how the budget is allocated.
“The institutional budget exists to fund the larger projects that they deem valuable to the learning environment … and then there’s the operating budget which funds the day to day operations of the university,” Root said. “If, in fact, their argument is that the money for large projects like the SLC is coming out of the operating budget of the university, that’s just bad budgeting practice.”
Incoming faculty of business director Noah Parker, who ran under the Transform RU slate, finds some of the numbers presented in the current RSU’s alternative budget tough to swallow.
“I think it’s weird how the university came back and said that some of the numbers weren’t the way they were stated in the report … some of the facts seem a little misleading,” Parker said.
He also said that despite disagreeing with the Freeze the Fees campaign, there are things Parker would continue when Transform takes possession of the RSU next year.
“I admire the hard work the RSU – and in particular Jesse Root – has been doing to lower tuition fees [but] I think that picking fights with the university and telling them that they’re spending money poorly isn’t really going to do much … I think that a better way to do it would be working with the university instead of pointing out where they’re wrong,” he said.
Parker said he would, however, like to take some cues from the alternative budget.
“One of the recommendations is [to] keep a transparent communication with the university and how they budget and their budgeting practices. I think that’s good and I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t continue that [going] forward,” Parker said.
If the finance committee approves the alternative budget the RSU will present it to the Board of Governors on March 30.