Photo: Sarah Krichel

Board of directors meeting highlights: RSU annual budget and Charlottesville condemnation

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By Noushin Ziafati

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) annual budget, executive reports, the creation of a condemnation post for the Charlottesville riots and a graduate students’ travel budget were among matters discussed at the Aug. 16 board meeting.

When discussing the union’s budget, RSU president Susanne Nyaga confirmed that the union is in a $1.2-million deficit.

“So you know, money’s a little tight,” she said.   

The RSU budget for social events was slashed drastically. Last year, the social events budget was $1.1 million—and for this school year it was cut down to $123,800, after the costly 6 Fest and 6 Cent events that are considered to be the main causes of the deficit.

The RSU gained a reputation for bringing special guests to perform at Ryerson, with Drake and DJ Esco performing in May’s 6 Cent concert as well as DJ Diplo, Pusha T and French Montana performing at last October’s 6 Fest concert. However, the big names brought big costs, causing the RSU to accumulate a $1 million deficit in the past year from the two concerts alone —$750,000 from 6 Fest and $250,000 from the 6 Cent concert in May. 

Board member Salman Faruqi said that the RSU’s budget for staffing is a large portion of the total yearly budget in comparison to the staffing budgets at the University of Toronto and York University.

 

“What I want to ask is, is this sustainable especially since we’re in a deficit for us to go into future years with such high expenses for staff?” Faruqi asked.

 

Nyaga said that the staffing budget is understandable given the vast amount of services that are available on campus due to the presence of staff members, including the student owned and operated CopyRITE Printing Service and the Member Services Office, which provides Metropasses and lost and found services to students.

“We need staff to make sure the RSU’s longevity is happening, we need staff to sit there and think about long-term planning for the RSU, we need people there to support us,” she said.

Faruqi also contested the cutting of funds for student groups, which was cut by $80,000. The funds allocated for campus group leadership and events funding was also cut by nearly $10,000.

 

The RSU budget approval will be finalized at the next meeting. A date has yet to be determined, but it will take place before Aug. 31.

In addition to the budget, vice-president education Daniel Lis moved a motion for the RSU to make an official statement condemning the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On the weekend white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counter protesters in the streets which led to a car driving into a crowd killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio was charged with second-degree murder.  

 

An amendment moved by vice-president operations Ali Yousaf was made so that the statement must be approved by the entire board before it is put out. The motion for the statement passed.

Executive reports were shared with board members, pertaining to the work executives have planned for the school year.

Also discussed was the approval of a graduate students’ travel grant program, which will distribute funds as budgeted to graduate student members who have attended an academic conference or workshop to present research papers, posters or other presentations. Applications for the grant will be reviewed throughout the year following RSU’s fiscal calendar May 1 to April 30, and the maximum amount awarded per student is $500. The motion for the graduate students’ travel grant program passed. 

 

 

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