By Raneem Alozzi
From student bursary cuts to raises for athletics, the newly elected Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) team is making a lot of changes, beginning with this year’s budget.
The RSU approved their budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year—from May 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019—during a Board of Directors meeting in August.
Among the RSU’s costliest initiatives this year are funding the RU-Pass referendum, competitive sports clubs, equity centre services and course unions so they can run more networking events.
This year, the RSU expects to receive $2.7 million in student fees—a sum every undergraduate student pays alongside their tuition to fund the RSU. The budget includes this year’s executive team’s expenses, their revenues and where they’ve chosen to allocate all that money.
Where do those fees go exactly? The student union’s spending priorities change from year to year, so we broke down this year’s budget.
More money, more revenue
The total proposed expenses budget for the fiscal year of 2018-2019 is $2.7 million, an 8 per cent increase from the total amount spent by last year’s team.
The RSU’s total revenue budget has also grown to account for the increase. Their plan is to bring in nearly $2.8 million in total. The money will come from student fees, CopyRITE profits, interest on their investments and Career Boost funding. If things go according to plan, the budget will leave the RSU with a surplus of $52,708—a 84 per cent decrease from last year’s $338,669.18 surplus.
A decrease in internship grants
The RSU cancelled the Student Bursary Scholarship which was previously budgeted at $10,000; only $250 of it was used last year. In its place, the RSU created a project that allocated $37,000 toward its total. This sum will be allocated for emergency and internship grants, and other items within the department. This way, the RSU said they can provide financial assistance when necessary and not have exact numbers limited to specific grants.
Internship grants were slashed from $50,000 to $15,000. Last year, 100 internship grants were distributed to students taking an unpaid internship related to their studies. The RSU could not confirm how many grants will be given out this school year.
This year’s budget also includes a new $20,000 grant that will subsidize transit for GO Transit riders.
Equity centres get a raise
With hopes to promote the RSU’s equity centres, Ganesh said the executive team wanted to pour money into advertising equity centre services during the coming months.
This year, $72,789 will be budgeted for equity issues, including Indigenous issues, equity and anti-oppression campaigns and equity education. Of that sum, $65,289 will go toward staff wages. The remaining $7,500 will be spent on equity-based projects, conferences and workshops.
Equity service groups, which include the Racialised Students’ Collective, RYEAccess, the Centre for Women and Trans People, the Trans collective and RyePRIDE, have a total of $162,650 allocated to them. It’s a 60 per cent increase from last year’s $101,450.
With the exception of RyePRIDE, which only needs to be staffed once a year, all equity staff will see an increase in their wages, starting at $3,000.
The Good Food Centre and Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line are also RSU equity centres. They have their own separate funding as a result of the referendum last year.
Increased budget for athletes
Athletic groups have $120,000 in proposed budgets. That’s a $95,000 increase from last year.
Athletic groups will also be receiving an athletic sponsorship for the first time, provided by the RSU and Ryerson athletics. The sponsorship is valued at $90,000 and will be directed towards competitive sports and athletic clubs—like curling and water polo—that don’t receive funding from Ryerson.
CopyRITE, the RSU’s printing and binding centre for students located in the Ryerson Student Centre basement, has $50,000 budgeted for improvements—a 56 per cent increase compared to last year’s team. CopyRITE needs to undergo integral renovations this year because of their outdated equipment.
More RSU campaigns?
The overall budgeted expenses for educational campaigns and advocacy department is $150,400, a 91 per cent increase from last year’s $78,643. The bulk of the budget is going toward staff wages, which are budgeted at $106,200—a 40 per cent increase from last year’s wages.
An additional $40,000 will be going towards Open Educational Resources. The resources aim to alleviate textbook and study costs for students by creating a space for “course resource material,” said Ganesh. Additionally, the RSU hopes to provide educational equity resources through this network.
The remaining $4,200 will go towards RSU campaigns and initiatives, a 24 per cent decrease from last year’s $5,500.
RSU spends more money on itself
The RSU board retreat, which took place in May, was budgeted at $26,000, nearly 62 per cent more than what last year’s team spent. These expenses included food, transportation and accommodations as well as materials and supplies.
At the retreat, the RSU also approved motions to increase executive salaries by $11,000 and a $500 increase to board members during a board meeting.
6Fest? Try LIT Fest
The annual Week of Welcome was budgeted at $54,000. “Loud in Toronto (LIT) Concert”, a festival to be held later this term, is budgeted at $470,000 with an expected revenue of $530,000 from tickets and sponsorships.
The concert was supposed to take place Sept. 14, Ganesh said, but there have been some “hiccups” in terms of getting the permits needed to run the event. He said he couldn’t confirm the exact date yet.
Administration and Office
The most costly department in the RSU is the administrative and office budget of $1.3 million. That figure includes administration expenses as well as executive and staff wages and benefits.
There are 11 current full-time staff at the RSU, but they plan to hire three more. Additionally, they have about 60 part-time staff.
RSU staff receive a total of $590,400, which includes salaries, benefits and development programs. Each executive director at the RSU is paid $47,000, an $11,000 increase from last year. The executive salaries and expenses alone total $295,980.
The Eye previously reported executive and director wage increases were approved after a motion was brought forward during the first BoD meeting of the year. The motion was brought forward by student Tajinder Kaur, who cited that the executive members of the University of Waterloo Federation of Students are paid higher wages despite their smaller student population.