A look back: the little SAC that grew

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The Students’ Administrative Council (SAC) was Ryerson’s first elected student body, founded in 1948 back when Ryerson was an Institute of Technology. The executive committee was accompanied by a large number of student representatives from different faculties and years.

In 1958 the Ryersonian reported: “SAC functions include Frosh initiation, the Snoball (Christmas dance), the Homecoming weekend, the Blue and Gold (the big formal of the year held annually at the Royal York Hotel), football weekends, and the campaigns for Miss Ryerson and Miss Frosh.”

During executive elections in March, 1959, the Ryersonian said: “Of the 1,938 student eligible to cast ballots, only 1,003 appeared at the polls.” This amounts to 52 per cent of the student population, compared with the pathetic 10 per cent of Ryerson students who vote in elections nowadays.

SAC elections in those days were real elections, with students voting for partisan candidates. T He party system consisted of the White, the Blue and the Gold parties, though students were encouraged to run independently.

In 1968, SAC’s budget was $120,000. The president was paid $400 per school year plus a weekly summer salary of $75, while the executive vice-president was paid $300 per school year and the vice president of financial affairs received $600.

The year of 1967 saw a “radical” president, Janet Weir, take office. Impeachment proceedings were initiated against her after she supposedly made left-wing statements at a congress in London.

The impeachment bid failed and was followed by several resignations in the executive committee, including that of the executive vice-president.

Weir finished her term, even as a group of right-wing candidates replaced those who had resigned. The next president was also left-wing and suffered defeat after a right-wing campaign to have him removed from office.

Elections held in 1969 changed SAC’s structure to that of a 12-member board of directors and the student council was reborn as the Students’ Union of Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (SURPI).

Next week: a look at the life and times of SURPI

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