By Aidan Macnab
Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) executives gave themselves and their colleagues a raise.
The RSU released its 2016/2017 budget proposals this week and $5,000 was added to each executive salary from what was originally budgeted last year.
Last academic year, the RSU president made $29,950, vice president operations made $29,465, vice president of equity made $29,554, vice president of education made $29,702 and vice president of student life and events made $29,808. The executive salaries are now proposed to be $36,000 each.
Vice president operations Neal Muthreja said he and his colleagues on the executive routinely exceed the work schedule they are officially paid for. Their increase in pay was to compensate their overtime, as well as keep up with the rising cost of living, Muthreja said.
RSU president Obaid Ullah also said the high cost of food as well as commuting in Toronto was why they decided on the pay increase.
Last year, a motion submitted at an RSU annual general meeting requested a jump in salary for executives. The motion was pushed to the next RSU board of directors meeting and did not pass.
The executive salary increase was part of a pay increase shared across the RSU. All salaries for part-time RSU staff were raised to $15 per hour from previous years, when it was $12.50 per hour. It was the raise for the RSU staff that Muthreja said was the main priority for the executive.
“The amount of work that everyone here puts in. To thank them for their valued input to the organization we increased their wage to an acceptable level, all across the RSU,” he said.
“We’re complaining about how tuition is so expensive and cost of living is so high. A lot of Ryerson students are commuters so you’re either paying to get downtown or you’re paying to live downtown,” he said.
But last year, not everyone in the RSU was satisfied with their share. Last fall, RSU’s equity groups went over budget. They had been allotted $44,615, despite the RSU spending $130,689 on them the year before.
Ullah said this was due to shoddy accounting. “Our finances in the last four years have been very poorly managed,” he said.
This year the total proposed expense for the equity groups is $162,360, reestablishing their funding’s upward trajectory. Apart from the dip last year, funding for these groups has steadily increased since 2013-14, when they received just under $79,000.
“Equity service centres are a vital group on campus,” said Ullah.
At the RSU’s last semi-annual general meeting, students voted to make sure the RSU spent at least $2 per student on the equity centres, not including wages paid to staff.
Equity groups also made a significant amount of their own money. Last year RyePRIDE raised $68,000 and RyeACCESS raised $22,000.