By Emerald Bensadoun and Raneem Alozzi
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has approved motions to increase executive salaries by $11,000 and a $500 increase to board members during a board meeting on May 27, The Eyeopener has learned.
The Board of Directors (BoD) meeting was held in Orillia, Ont. during an RSU retreat and was not accessible to the public. The motions addressed at the board meeting were pushed from the Annual General Meeting (AGM) because of a lack of quorum. This allowed RSU executives to pass or reject motions without students’ votes.
RSU SALARIES INCREASED DURING PRIVATE MEETING
Based on a motion to increase RSU salaries, board members will now get an honorarium of $1,500 per semester, instead of the previous $1,000. The executive team will now earn $47,000 a year with benefits, a 30.5 per cent increase from last year. The 2017-2018 executive team received $36,000 per annum.
The executive team is made up of the president, vice-president operations, vice-president education, vice-president student life and events and vice-president equity. Their duties include but are not limited to educational and administrative advocacy on behalf of the student population, providing accessible services to students, fostering a community environment through events and establishing equity on campus.
The BoD, which is made up of faculty specific directors, is responsible for the administration of the RSU and ensures that their campaigns and services are operating effectively.
The last time the executives received a salary increase was in the 2016-2017 school year, when the pay increase was $5,000.
According to the meeting’s agenda, the motion to increase salaries states that, “Currently, the executive members are paid $36,000 per annum, while mandated to represent the voices of over 33,834 students,” citing that the executive members of the University of Waterloo Federation of Students are paid $46,532 per year with a smaller student population as a justification for passing the motion.
The motion’s approval came after RSU president Ram Ganesh said he opposed the increase when the motion was first proposed during the AGM in April. At the time, the motion was not presented or voted on due to a lack of quorum at the meeting.
The motion to raise salaries was brought forward by Tajinder Kaur, who was not present at the meeting at the time nor at the RSU retreat.
The salary increase as well as all other financial expenditures will come from the RSU’s $2.7 million budget. The motion was unanimously passed during the meeting.
Ganesh did not comment in time for publication.
MOTION TO INCREASE FINANCIAL AUTHORITY
Also on the agenda was a motion moved by vice-president operations, Savreen Gosal, which allows the executive team to spend more money in accordance to their 2018-2019 operating budget.
The executive members are each now allowed to spend up to $5,000. This was previously limited to $1,500.
Based on the RSU’s financial policy, there is little supervision on how the money is spent.
RSU financial controller Dharshini Jay told The Eye that there are no limits on what RSU executive members can spend their money on, as long as the money being spent “is related to RSU activities.”
With the termination of the RSU’s general manager position, and the dismissal of former general manager, Sid Naidu, there is currently no direct supervision on the $5,000 until they are seen by Jay, who is responsible for approving all RSU exec expenses.
Jay said that in the past, the money has been used on transportation, food and to fund executive projects and expenditures and emergency situations.
The budget for the upcoming year still has not been presented or approved by the board.
THE CONCERTS: 6FEST…AGAIN?
Edmund Sofo, vice-president student life and events, presented a motion to hold three concerts throughout the upcoming year and allocated $400,000 for the first concert.
A source who was present at the meeting and requested to remain anonymous told The Eye that the concerts, which will are scheduled to take place in September, January and April, are said to be similar to 6Fest. No other details have been released about the concerts.
6Fest, the RSU’s controversial two-day concert in October 2016, saw performances by French Montana and Diplo. It later made headlines for its contributions to the RSU’s $1.2 million deficit that year, after $80,000 of RSU funds were transferred into the personal accounts of executives and their friends.
According to the source, Ganesh said at the meeting that the RSU hopes to raise $350,000 through corporate sponsorships alone for the concerts.
Sofo did not comment in time for publication.
RENOVATIONS IN THE STUDENT CAMPUS CENTRE
Another motion on the agenda that was passed was plans to renovate the CopyRITE Centre and the second and third floors of the Student Campus Centre (SCC). Another source who spoke to The Eye said the executive team did not present exact financial estimates for the construction.
The third floor of the SCC will be renovated to make room for the Directors’ Lounge. However, before the renovations can move forward, they have to be presented and approved by the Palin Foundation, which is a board that makes decisions on how the SCC is maintained.
While no official details have been released surrounding the SCC’s second floor renovations, vice-president equity, Karolina Surowiec, will be in charge of its planning.
CopyRITE, which is located in the basement of the SCC will also undergo a $50,000 renovation. No further information on these renovations was made available.
Surowiec did not comment in time for publication.
Neil Jalota was appointed as chairperson for the BoD meetings as of May 2018 and until April 2019. Jalota was allegedly involved with recent mediations between the RSU and the RSU’s full time employee union when drafting a new collective agreement.
Divyansh Chandel was ratified as the international student representative of the RSU as per Ganesh’s recommendations.
A motion passed to rename the U-Pass, referendum that refers to the implementation of a $70 TTC transit pass in the fall semester, to RU-Pass after the U-Pass referendums failed at the University of Toronto and George Brown College. During the meeting, Salman Faruqi, vice-president education, said rebranding the U-Pass will make Ryerson students enthusiastic and give them more ownership of their campaign.
BETWEEN THE LINES
The board meeting took place at Geneva Park during the RSU retreat. This is the first meeting to take place outside of the Ryerson campus in at least three years.
The next meeting is scheduled for August.