By Madi Wong and Valerie Dittrich
At their latest board of directors meeting on June 20, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) voted on implementing a new financial system for student group budgets and introduced their new executive director.
Due to the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) taking effect in the fall semester, the RSU discussed how they could amend their current student groups and course union policies.
“The new team has been working very closely with administration in putting together the final finishes of the budget proposal,” said RSU student groups coordinator Dawn Murray.
According to Murray, if the RSU were to adopt the updated course union and student groups funding motion, it would mean that there would no longer be a “defined budget” for neither student groups or course unions. A new system called “special projects funding” would be implemented, which would feature grant applications, according to Murray.
The motion listed numerous amendments including students not being allowed to join a student group without opting into the RSU and allowing student groups to have up to a $10 per year membership fee.
“The student groups’ life as we know today is going to be extremely affected come September,” said Murray. After a lively discussion, the board voted in favour of the new course union and student groups funding motion.
The RSU also introduced their new executive director, Ren Niles, a mature sociology student at Ryerson.
The Eye previously reported that the RSU would hire a new general manager, now referred to as executive director, within their first week in office. The team officially started their positions May 1.
According to Fotak, the RSU sent out a report to board members about Niles’ hiring and it did not contain “a good excuse” as to why the hiring was delayed. The initial report said “there was no delay,” according to Fotak, which he called vague.
Fotak put forth a motion to request a new report to explain the delay and why board members were not consulted for the hiring, but the motion was ruled out of order, due to the question already receiving an answer in the existing report.
Here’s what else you missed at the RSU Board of Directors (BoD) meeting:
Motion to hire a third ex-officio director – PASSED
At May’s BoD meeting, former vice-president equity Karolina Suroweic and student groups director James Fotak were elected as ex-officio members of the board.
The RSU voted in favour for a motion to add a third ex-officio member, Parker Ducharme, who is residence representative.
Motion to establish an accountability committee – TABLED
Motivated by Fotak, this motion would establish an accountability committee to improve transparency and accountability. Some board members, however, wanted to amend the wording of the motion and table it until July.
“By doing nothing, we’re presenting a pretty strong message by tabling it. We’re saying it’s not important enough,” said Fotak.
In addition to being tabled to the July meeting, the motion will be forwarded to the governance committee where Fotak will be able to speak for it and be a part of the conversation.
Motion to amend media policy – TABLED
Motivated by Fotak, this motion would have updated RSU’s media policy to allow members to bring forward concerns “in good faith” to campus press.
Faculty of Arts director Raquel Almeida Margulies said that the RSU should make sure no one has a fear from doing what they “truthfully think is the right thing.”
“It is important that we show the students and the student body that we are unified as much as humanly possible…[members] should not be scared to come forth with that information,” Almeida Margulies said.
RSU president Vanessa Henry, who motivated against the motion, said that the current policy is not intended to keep members silent. It is, instead, intended for the executives to stay informed and address any issues internally first.
Some board members questioned the wording and subjectivity of what acting “in good faith” means. The motion was eventually tabled to avoid ambiguity and will be discussed at the July meeting.
Motion to rescind RSU executive’s cell phone reimbursement – FAILED
Motivated by James Hassos, this motion would have RSU executives’ reimbursement for their cell phones revoked in order to help save money to allocate to student groups. The executives currently receive $120 per month to cover their cell phone costs.
After an hour of debate, the motion failed and the executives will continue receiving the full reimbursement for their phone bills.