By Don McHoull
Ryerson’s activists are on the verge of getting their own Oakham House society.
RyeACT has existed unofficially for the past three years under a variety of names, but it is now attempting to become an official campus group.
“It’s important for a group that hopes to have long-term standing to be officially recognized,” said interim RyeACT coordinator Odelia Bay.
Bay, a former president of RyeSAC, was involved in founding RyeACT in 1999. At that time it was a committee designed to organize the Access 2000 campaign.
Over the years it has broadened its mandate to include social justice activism.
RyeACT has sometimes caused controversy on campus. Last year it was criticised for bringing anti-poverty activist John Clarke to speak on campus after Clarke had previously advocated violent protest.
Alex Lisman, another interim coordinator of the group, said he thinks RyeACT’s application to Oakham House may encounter some political problems.
“When you’re an organization that includes left-wing politics, everything is political,” said Lisman.
Oakham house requires all groups applying for society status to have at least 20 members. RyeACT claims they have about 40 members.
Lisman said just because RyeACT’s application meets Oakham house’s membership does not mean it will be automatically approved.
“I assumed that there will be questions and concerns along the way,” said Lisman. “One of our concerns is how much of interference there will be from Oakham House.”
Lisman said that RyeACT has no plans to tone down its views.
“We want to take a stand on things, like the war in Iraq, that may be very controversial,” said Lisman.
Bay said that RyeACT chose to become an Oakham House society rather than a student group because not all of its members are students.
“Society status suits our group the best at this point,” said Bay. “Most of our members are students, but we also have faculty members and alumni, and we want to reach out to the broader community.”
Becoming an Oakham House society will entitle RyeACT to funding and use of Oakham House facilities.
The group’s first meeting is on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Oakham House. RyeACT members and other interested members of the community will discuss topics including those relating to the student’s movement, globalization and the anti-war movement.