By Emma Sandri
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has yet to approve its annual operating budget—despite the union’s bylaws requiring the budget to be passed by the end of August.
According to section 2.10 of the RSU bylaws, the Board of Directors (BoD) should consider the budgets of all committees, operations and services, and approve the union’s budget no later than Aug. 31.
After requesting an interview with RSU president Vanessa Henry and vice-president operations Augustine Onuh, Henry emailed The Eyeopener and said the union’s plan was to call an emergency BoD meeting to have the budget passed “as soon as possible.”
“The budget wasn’t passed at the last board meeting because we were unable to meet quorum,” said Henry on Sept. 4. “The finance committee is using the next couple weeks to review [the budget] to perfect it even more before the next board meeting.”
A BoD meeting, where the specifics of the 2019-2020 budget were set to be addressed, was scheduled for Aug. 29, but it did not meet quorum and was adjourned. As defined by RSU bylaws, there must be a majority of “voting directors” present at a board meeting in order to hear motions and vote on them—referred to as quorum.
Bylaws also state that the vice-president operations should present the budget to the finance committee and get their approval—before the budget is voted on by the board.
The budget consists of money allocated for student services and groups such as the equity centres, like the Sexual Assault Survivors Support Line (SASSL) and the Good Food Centre (GFC). It also includes money for scholarships and grants, social events—such as concerts—and money to keep student support services running, like the Wellness Centre.
When asked if the finance committee approved the budget before the Aug. 29 BoD meeting, Henry said the committee had not.
“The finance committee wanted a clear understanding of specific line items and what it meant when line items were classified as non-essential versus essential,” said Henry in an email on Sept. 8. “Myself and a few members from the finance committee have been in direct contact with the university to have some of our concerns and questions answered.”
Once it is approved by the committee, the budget should be given to board members “no less than five business days,” before the BoD meeting where the budget will be voted on, according to the union’s financial policies.
“The RSU has only been spending money on events and initiatives that are essential”
This means that the BoD would not be able to pass the annual operating budget—even if their Aug. 29 meeting had met quorum.
In her Sept. 8 email, Henry said the RSU is currently only spending money on “essential line items.”
“The RSU has only been spending money on events [and] initiatives that are essential because that money is guaranteed. We cannot spend non-essential funding until we are aware of how many students have opted in. We will be made aware of our total funding after [Sept. 13],” she said.
Onuh, who chairs the finance committee and develops the annual budget, did not respond to joint requests for comment with Henry.