Recently, a handful of individuals have been making outlandish claims regarding a supposed $100,000 increase in salaries of the Executive Committee of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) and resulting decreases in services and clubs funding.
These allegations are false.
In lieu of proof, those promoting this misleading information point to an increase in the salary line item and decreases in the services and clubs funding line items in the 2010–2011 financial statements when compared to the 2009–2010 statements. As such, their claims are actually based on last year’s numbers and have no bearing on the current operations of the UTSU. This is a rather embarrassing error for those individuals who claim expertise in financial matters.
Also, the increases in the salary line item have absolutely nothing to do with salary increases to the executive (which include the president, VP internal & services, VP external, VP university affairs, VP campus life, and VP equity). The UTSU’s board of directors must first approve any such increases, and no such approval has been made in either 2009–2010 or 2010–2011. Any claim that the UTSU executive has increased its salary by $100,000 is utterly false and absurd.
It is profoundly dishonest to claim that the UTSU has cut services to students. Decreases in funds spent on UTSU services are due to decreases in the actual cost of administering some services, as we have seen with the book exchange program going online.
If you compare the audited financial statements of 2009–2010 and 2010–2011, you will see an increase in the “Salaries and Wages” line item, but this had nothing to do with increasing salaries. It is directly attributable to the hiring of more staff, both full-time and students as part-time and casual staff, to increase the UTSU’s capacity to effectively deliver services and advocate on behalf of our members.
It is profoundly dishonest to claim that the UTSU has cut services to students. Decreases in funds spent on UTSU services are due to decreases in the actual cost of administering some services, as we have seen with the book exchange program going online. This is a good thing for members as it now costs us less to operate our services, thus allowing us to expand the depth or number of our services. In fact, this year we have introduced a number of new services such as discounted black and white printing, and photocopying (two cents per page), discounted AGO tickets, discounted Raptors tickets, discounted clubs banner printing, and extending our office hours to improve access to all of our services to students (including mature students, students in professional programs, and other students who have class or work for most of the workday).
There is also no basis for the allegation that clubs funding has been cut. As can be seen in the UTSU budget for the 2011–2012 fiscal year, clubs funding has increased by $10,000. The budget shows there has been a new line item added that covers the UTSU Clubs Directory, a popular service to our members and clubs. In the past, the funds spent on this directory were taken out of the Clubs Committee line item. The funding previously going to the directory is now going to clubs directly. The “decrease” in monies spent in the “Clubs and other subsidies” line between the 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 audited financial statements was due to the fusion of two events (Unity Ball and the Clubs Awards Ceremony) into one.
Of course, all this information is available to all of our members online and from the UTSU office. It is unfortunate therefore that some individuals have chosen to try and take advantage of their peers by deliberately making false claims about the UTSU’s finances. By working together, we have been able to create great services to support students and clubs by saving them money. Given the high cost of post-secondary education, this is an important part of the work we do.
It is a critical time for students to unite. This week, UTSU members will be joining thousands of students in a National Day of Action. As students studying in Ontario, we pay the highest tuition fees in the country, and these fees will only continue to rise unless we do something about it. This year, students won the creation of a new tuition fee reduction grant, but this grant only helps a portion of students. Our work in
expanding this grant to include students in first-entry professional programs is proof that we need to continue to push back and demand an accessible and affordable system of post-secondary education — for everyone. By working together, students can win.
We look forward to seeing you on the streets this Wednesday, February 1.
Danielle Sandhu is president of the University of Toronto Students’ Union. You can reach her at [email protected].