By Keith Capstick
On Feb. 25 the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and members of Ryerson’s administration met to finalize their budget consultation process.
This is the first time in recent memory the students union and the university discussed how students’ top priorities will be incorporated into the budgeting process.
RSU vice president education Cormac McGee presented his findings to the administration’s macro budgeting committee in front of a scarce crowd of students and many of the school’s top executives.
“I think it’s key to have these events. But there’s still a hesitation from some students to ask tough questions and to push the administration,” said McGee. “They need to be hearing those questions directly, I was impressed with most of the admins answers but some of them I wish they had gotten just directly to the point.”
The speakers included interim president Mohamed Lachemi, deputy provost and interim provost and vice president academic Chris Evans, vice provost students Heather Lane-Vetere and vice president administration and finance Janice Winton, along with McGee.
McGee presented concerns on behalf of students about poor mental health services, fixing broken elevators and making buildings more accessible.
According to Lane-Vetere, the school submitted a request to the budget committee to add two additional councillors and work on the centre’s current filing process to shorten wait times.
Lane-Vetere also mentioned that Ryerson’s long-term goal is to relocate the centre to a more central location on campus. Its current location is in Jorgenson Hall.
The brunt of the meeting’s discussion focused on accessibility, including mobility entrances to buildings, gender neutral bathrooms and accessible bathrooms.
“I was happy with it as a first go, although I wish more people showed up,” said McGee. “I was hoping for this event they [the administration] would have had more actuals but I think with every request they said they committed to doing something and in the long run that’s how something will actually get done. So it’s my job now to make sure that happens.”
Despite the positive tone of the meeting, much of the financial and logistical information about the ways students’ concerns will be substantively met with action by administration were left out of the dialogue. Much of that information will be available once the budget is finalized in late March. When the university looks to change something on campus, they have to submit a budget request to the macro budgeting committee to be reviewed for the following year, which is the step that these initiatives are currently in.
Representatives from both the Continuing Education Students Association of Ryerson (CESAR) and Reignite Ryerson were also present.
Rabbia Ashraf vice president internal at CESAR raised questions about how the school is maintaining transparency with its students and tackling the “tuition fee crisis” on campus.
After some back and forth, both sides looked toward the Ontario government’s restructuring of tuition framework in 2017 as students’ and administration’s opportunity to change the way tuition increases have become ingrained in the provincial budgeting process.