Students push for space and ‘democracy’

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By Laura Pravs

Top Ryerson administrators won’t be held accountable if students are shut out, RyeSAC says

Lack of space at meetings where Ryerson’s top administrators decide on such issues as tuition fees, university development and new programs is pushing students out of the decision-making process, Ryerson’s student leaders charge.

They say that meetings of the Board of Governors are undemocratic unless the gatherings are moved to a larger room that can accommodate students who want to attend.

“Being a democratic organization, there is an expected level of openness,” said RyeSAC president Odelia Bay, one of three student representatives with a seat on the board. “They are trying to send a message confirming that they are open, when in fact they are not.”

Bay said the existing space, a boardroom on the 14th floor of Jorgenson Tower, has only four seats reserved for students. Former RyeSAC president Cory Wright first brought a motion to move board meetings to a larger room over the summer.

At Monday’s board meeting, chairwoman Jane Langdon said the layout of the current location has since been changed to give observers more room. Linda Grayson, v.p. administration and student affairs, is also reviewing other options, Langdon added. “Moving into a larger room, such as A-250 would make it more possible to accommodate the people who wish to be there,” Bay said.

Alex Lisman, RyeSAC’s v.p. education, said there needs to be more seats made available, especially for meetings where important issues are being considered. “It is vitally important that the board meet in a larger space,” he said.

Although there were empty seats at Monday’s meeting, the boardroom had been packed with students concerned about such issues as Bill 132, when the Ontario government was preparing last year to allow private universities to grant degrees in the province.

Lisman said students weren’t allowed to attend the board meeting when the bill was being discussed last November. “Security guards guarded the door,” Lisman said. “We wanted a motion to take a stand and a position on private universities.” Instead, they were kept in a neighbouring room and could only watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit television.

Ken Marciniec, RyeSAC’s v.p. finance and development, said any larger room would do “if it would provide adequate space, and students could…sit in at these meetings.”

“Democracy isn’t just about hearing what decision makers have to say or what they do,” Bay said. “It’s also about being seen and heard by the decision makers.”

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