By Alexandra Holyk and Izabella Balcerzak
Since the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) was announced by the Ontario Government on Jan. 17, there have already been cuts to student life in the business and science societies, leaving the students in charge scrambling to figure out funding for next year.
Paying the levy for student unions is one of the optional ancillary fees, meaning that every student run initiative under the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) will be at-risk. This will include student groups affiliated with the Ted Rogers Students’ Society (TRSS) and the Ryerson Science Society (RSS).
TRSS is a student-elected society representing over 9,500 full-time undergraduate students attending any of the five schools within the Ted Rogers School of Management. This includes business management, information technology management, hospitality and tourism management, retail management and accounting and finance.
RSS similarly represents students across all seven of the science faculty’s programs, including two math programs, four chemistry and biology programs, computer science and medical physics. Together, the two student societies oversee about 50 different student groups.
Last year, Ted Rogers students paid $70.89 toward funding the TRSS, and science students paid $30 per semester toward the RSS.
Nader Nassereddine, a first year business management student, was elected to the position of Business Management Director. As a first-year, he’s one of the youngest students on TRSS. He campaigned on a platform that was centered around proving to students that the roughly $70 fee is worth it.
“If you haven’t been involved, next year might be a wake-up call”
“We’re not going to get as much money back because the trust is lost,” he said, considering students are now doubting what their fees are being spent on. “It’s really hard to gain back that trust.”
Nassereddine said that his involvement in various student groups ultimately gave him enough confidence to run against upper-year students in the last election. These groups that get first-year students involved are the ones on the chopping block. “It’s frightening, but it’s something that I’m willing to take on,” he said. “It shouldn’t be something that holds us back, but something we take as a positive and try to fix.”
Nassereddine said his team has already begun allocating funds for next year. The funding changes have already impacted his view on how student life will be at Ryerson next year.
“It’s going to be a completely different environment with [student life] being taken away,” he said. He added that he’s worried about smaller student groups such as Ryerson Toastmasters, which helps build leadership skills and public speaking abilities. Meanwhile, the Top 200 program has already been cut. It gave students networking opportunities through conferences, workshops, and co-op internships in the industry. Without it, many students worry their student life is being negatively affected.
Sandeep Niranjan, the president of the Ryerson Toastmasters, is unsure about what the upcoming cuts will mean for the future of TRSS groups.
“We’re not going to get as much money back because the trust is lost”
“If students opt out of this levy, then student groups like mine at TRSS may not have the same support they had this year,” he said. “This means that [the Ryerson Toastmasters] and most likely many others under the TRSS umbrella will have to seek funding from external parties such as corporations.”
The cuts to student societies will also affect students from different faculties. Kristen Kelly, third-year professional communication student, chooses to stay heavily involved with TRSS student groups. She worries these cuts will “put a lot of pressure” when hiring within student groups.
Kelly was also vice-president of events for the ProCom Course Union (PCCU) and experienced first hand the importance of financial support smaller groups receive. With a smaller budget, they had to rely on corporate partners for organizing events, in addition to RSU funding.
David Jardine, the RSS’s vice-president of communications, expressed his concern for future events hosted by student groups. They said that the quality and the quantity of the different social events will decrease, and it will be more difficult to attract students.
Many students worry their student life is being negatively affected
“There will be less leadership opportunities just because there’s less funding,” Jardine said. They explained that networking and alumni events are crucial places for students to meet employers.
“When you do apply for jobs, they’re going to want to look at what you’ve done, right? It’s not going to be [just] based on grades but [also] based on your experience,” said Nassereddine. “I hope that at least [during] the summer, they realize how important student groups are, because they are what forms the school community itself.”
Kelly adds that, “if you haven’t been involved, next year might be a wake-up call [by saying] ‘Oh, I’m given even less opportunity than last year.”