University of Toronto students are still reeling three weeks after Ryerson University and George Brown College secured homegrown international rap star Drake as their main Orientation Week concert artist.
The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s student newspaper, reported that the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) spent around $515,000 on its parade and concert, which included $300,000 in sponsorship from local businesses and $215,000 from the RSU’s own annual budget. Of that $215,000, Ryerson University provided $100,000. “They basically look at our budget and they’ll let us know how much they could support us,” said Harman Singh, the RSU’s vice-president student life.
The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), which is responsible for the Orientation Week parade and concert at U of T, does not receive any funding from the administration. According to the UTSU’s statement of operations, the union spent $241,280 on Orientation Week activities in the 2014–2015 year.
According to Akshan Bansal, the UTSU’s vice-president campus life, the cost of such a high-profile artist prevented the UTSU from pursuing Drake as an option for the concert. “The UTSU did not even consider an artist such as Drake due to our crippling orientation budget,” Bansal said.
Singh said that they were in talks with Bansal regarding a possible Orientation Week collaboration, but the plans fell through. “We were in talks with Akshan… From what I was told, he told me that a lot of concert programming starts before he comes into term, so they start choosing venues and everything [in] January. He came into office around April or March, so for his end, it seems his hands were tied,” Singh said.
Singh also described issues regarding the location of the concert, since both Ryerson and U of T have space that could accommodate a large outdoor concert. George Brown, Singh said, was keen to bring students to Ryerson for the space available there.
Instead, U of T students were treated to a concert headlined by pop singer Shawn Desman, following an unsuccessful effort to secure Jamaican rapper Sean Paul.
“My team and I made an attempt to acquire Sean Paul, however, our budget proved to be once again insufficient,” Bansal said, adding that the UTSU would have offered Sean Paul between $45,000 and $60,000. “The campus life team almost made this a reality until the [Canadian Dollar] dropped to 70¢ in comparison to the American Dollar,” Bansal added.
Singh stated that he is interested in future inter-university collaborations. “I’d like to see collaboration from campus to campus because Ryerson, George Brown and U of T are in a 5, 10, 15 kilometer radius and students all go to each other’s campuses for studying and study space, so everyone should come to each other’s campus for events,” said Singh.
Looking ahead, U of T and Ryerson are set to work together on a multicultural event in November. “What I know, because I’m talking to Akshan, is that we’re planning a multicultural event in November, so that will be our first step forward when it comes to large events.”
Both Ryerson and U of T hold concerts in January as part of programming during the first week back from the winter break. Singh said that the RSU does not have anyone on the radar for that concert yet.
“It will be a big artist, it will be a well- respected artist, but it most likely won’t be as big as Drake unless Drake wants to come back.”