Residence Society budget more than halved

ResSoc President predicts $25,000 operating deficit

ResSoc chose not to increase its student fee this year.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

With residence operating at half capacity, the Residence Society (ResSoc) budget has also been sliced in half. 

In a report to the AMS Assembly on Sept. 24, ResSoc President Oliver Flis explained the details of the budget decrease and the consequent adjustments that have been made to residence operations.

ResSoc is primarily funded through the $109 student fee paid by each student living in residence. With only about 1,800 students living in residence this year as opposed to the usual 4,600, ResSoc saw revenue decline by nearly 60 per cent.

The organization also receives money from Residence events like the annual Wolfe Island Corn Maze, but these events aren’t happening this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

READ MORE: Students in residence “generally” following pandemic safety guidelines

ResSoc didn’t increase the $109 student fees to account for the revenue decrease.

“A lot of students are struggling financially given the circumstances of the current pandemic, so we didn’t want to increase the burden on students by increasing student fees,” Flis told The Journal

ResSoc staff hiring began in January prior to the onset of COVID-19, but employment agreements were later revised to reduce overhead costs without taking jobs away.

Only 25 per cent of staff accepted traditional “live-in” roles in residence, while the other 75 per cent accepted a remote position with a reduced salary. According to Flis, each staff member had the opportunity to choose whether they lived in residence or worked remotely.

“What we really wanted to do was avoid lay-offs,” Flis said. “[For] a lot of students and staff, it’s a difficult time for them, and where possible we wanted to avoid that.”

Due to the budget decrease, ResSoc paused all non-essential expenses such as equipment, office supplies, and merchandise for the 2020-21 academic year.

A couple of executive ResSoc members are usually hired as full-time Summer Coordinators and work out of the Kingston ResSoc office.  

This past summer, the team worked remotely, focusing only on essential tasks and were paid by the hour. According to Flis, eliminating the Summer Coordinator role resulted in thousands of dollars in savings.

READ MORE: AMS Assembly: compensation policy for student labour in the works

The absence of in-person ResSoc programming also created 10 to 15 per cent in savings. Flis said the absence of typical orientation week expenses, for example, saved thousands of dollars as well.

Despite these measures, ResSoc is projecting a $25,000 operating deficit for this year. Flis called the deficit “modest.”

“We are a non-profit organization, so our ultimate objective is to be revenue neutral,” he said. 

Flis noted that, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused residences to close early in March, ResSoc saw an operating surplus of $53,000 last year.

“We thought this year it was important to invest and make sure that first-year students are supported and they do have the resources and supports they need,” Flis said.

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