Matthew Gray, editor-in-chief of the Toronto Globalist, has alleged that UTSU has acted improperly, shifting their publications funding policy without going through the board of directors or consulting with the relevant publications.
“I had talked to Corey [Scott, VP Campus Life] informally, where I was trying to gauge exactly how much money we would get, and what he said was that he felt that publications didn’t contribute to campus life as cost-effectively as cultural organizations do and basically because of that they were going to be cutting funding,” said Gray.
Scott doesn’t recall saying that publications did not contribute as cost-effectively as other organizations, and “certainly doesn’t think that’s necessarily true.”
“From my understanding,” said Gray, “which I’m not entirely sure of, you would require some sort of modification of clubs funding policy which would have to pass through the board of directors of UTSU. That’s what I thought was going to happen and I thought there would be space for all of us publications to rally and say ‘This is going to kill us.’”
According to Gray, in a meeting earlier this year Scott told him the Globalist should expect “in the range of $500 to $750, maybe $1000.” Though this figure would be an increase from last year, when the Globalist received only $500 from UTSU, it is a cut from the year prior, when they received some $1500.
“Basically our total budget has been between $4000 to $5000,” said Gray, “and the contribution from UTSU has been roughly between $1500 and $2500.”
According to Gray, the cut to $500 “kind of destroyed the organization.” The last time they printed an issue was spring of 2009, “because the UTSU dragged their feet” in giving last year’s funding. “[Last year], we just weren’t receiving any responses from UTSU and I actually had to personally figure it out because I knew Adam [Awad], Corey [Scott], Danielle Sandhu, so I went to them and sort of asked what was going on with that,” apparently receiving $500 in “emergency funding” shortly after.
Still, Gray maintains the “question is, why has there been a shift in UTSU policy that hasn’t gone through the board of directors?” He argues there is “no accountability as to how it shifts, they’re not really answering to anybody, just changing UTSU policy.” He added that “Corey is in an appointed position, so it is not a democratically elected position, so I’m kind of weirded out as to how they’ve done this.”
In fact, the process for funding clubs is formally delineated, and according to Scott, has not been varied from in this instance. Upon receiving a proposal, UTSU determines the funding for each organization first in the clubs committee — a nine-member unit with representation from UTSU and the clubs community. The figures the committee agrees on, based on the application funds granted in previous years and amount available that year, must then be ratified by the board of directors before being granted.
“So what we did, what I did last year, was count the amount of funding that was allocated to all the publications who had specifically requested funding for the publication. So that’s not including like The Muslim Voice which is funded by the MSA, or other clubs that are housing magazines. I counted up that number, I counted up the number from the year before, and kind of figured out a good even point between that, and then we added a little bit extra even to that, so that’s just kind of our informal number.” Though the Globalist funding has yet to be ratified, Scott maintains the unofficial figure “hasn’t gone down from last year.”
“We’ve tried to foresee as much as possible this year,” said Scott, “and I think that for a couple of the publications funding has gone up, and for some of them it’s gone down. the Globalist, not officially, has gone up a little.”
Confusion on UTSU’s publication policy may stem from Scott’s plan to create a formal policy for publications funding this year. As of now, publications are treated like all other clubs, and Scott hopes “to create a term of reference so publications know [how much funding they can expect] at the beginning of the year.”
“The funding is just not there to cover these huge costs, these realistic costs, these costs that kind of just can’t be avoided,” said Scott, citing a substantial growth in the number of groups applying for funding over the past two years, with the amount available — roughly $160,000 — staying constant.
“So we just had the concern that there were a lot of these executives going into debt, with the UTSU’s hands being tied behind their back because the funding’s just not there. So earlier in the year I talked to several of the publications, and talking about the idea of setting up a publications funding, so there’s a set amount of funds that would be put aside […] specifically for publications, but also so that we could create a policy around the set way to fund publications,” said Scott.
“The problem is that once you start giving out a lot of publications funding you become a beacon for publications, so if we give funding to the Toronto Globalist and then Footprint, Chinese Magazine, Green Health Discovery Magazine, Urbane, all these different magazines that are operating on campus which, you know, deserve funding, will come to UTSU and also ask for funding, but if you give $1500 to the Globalist and then there’s like six other magazines also applying next year because they heard about it. That’s like, $9000 out of the budget there, and it just becomes a lot tighter and a lot harder to decide.”
Scott maintains that this policy has yet to be enacted, and will be the result of extensive consultation with publications, likely in January or February.
“We do want to create a really good policy that is built by publications, and that has those opinions and those experiences within it, so that it works for everyone, but that it also doesn’t set up a false hope for exorbitant funds to cover the really high costs,” said Scott.