Branden Rizzuto is a fourth-year Archaeology PhD student running for Finance Commissioner.
Rizzuto is seeking re-election to help guide the union’s response to funding cuts that may occur under the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI).
He also aims to re-evaluate how course unions and graduate student groups are financed in the face of funding difficulties due to inflation and to increase awareness about services offered by the UTGSU among students.
He referred to his record as a UTGSU executive, having served as Academics & Funding Commissioner and Executive-at-Large before his current role as Finance Commissioner, as qualifications for his re-election.
Reflecting on his initiatives this year, Rizzuto believes that he has been “very successful” in revising and overhauling the UTGSU’s financial structures and transparency measures. Specifically, he guided the redesign of the finance section of the union’s website and public posting of UTGSU finance documents.
Rizzuto also highlighted that he supervised revisions of the union’s finance-related bylaws to “increase the efficiency and transparency of the union’s financial operations.”
Faced with possible budget cuts from the SCI, Rizzuto aims to “mitigate any revenue loss scenarios which threaten the health of the union’s services to members.”
He said that he has “formulated more than a dozen contingency plans to address any potential revenue loss scenarios.” Rizzuto also emphasized his belief that any financial restructuring measures would need be done in consultation with the UTGSU’s stakeholders.
Should severe funding cuts occur, Rizzuto said that the UTGSU has “three major options.” These are to “increase the administration fee as part of [its] health and dental insurance plan,” “increase the UTGSU fee itself,” or enact “budget cuts.” However, Rizzuto said that the UTGSU is in a “strong financial position to mitigate any revenue loss scenarios” as it can “tighten many different budget lines.”
Should budget cuts be necessary, he would prioritize grants offered to “our course unions and our caucuses, to our standing committees, as well as UTGSU member groups who put on events on campus that benefit the graduate experience.”
At the same time, he also acknowledges the need to maintain the “internal operating costs” that enable the UTGSU to do “advocacy work for finances, for academics, as well as general outreach in the health and dental insurance planning.”