By: Alison Northcott
The Life Issues Awareness group’s leader Erin Hunking, sits on the RyeSAC board of directors which means she will vote to ratify her own group on Sept. 30.
“I’m hoping she’ll abstain from the vote because I think it’s a conflict of interest on her part,” said board member Mike Verticchio.
Sara Holden, a second-year aerospace engineering student agreed
. “I think that if she wanted to remain professional, then she would abstain her vote,” she said. “Obviously she has interest in the group so she’s going to vote for the group no matter what. So it might be a little more professional, a little more fair, if she decided to abstain and let the rest of the group vote.”
RyeSAC president Ken Marciniec said he isn’t concerned about a conflict of interest.
“(Hunking) is a member of the board of directors for the student union and has a right to vote just like any other member of the board of directors,” he said. “But these aren’t the real issues.”
Marciniec is concerned about some of the views the group would advocate, particularly regarding abortion.
“For important health and social and economic reasons, women at Ryerson have th right to make choices about reproduction and it’s important that we ensure that they continue to have this right,” Marciniec said.
“Do we want some of our members’ money being used to fund a group that would advocate for the removal of some of our members rights?” He asked rhetorically.
The LIAG’s constitution says it would promote its view on issues like abortion, euthanasia and bio-ethics among others.
Verticchio says he has similar concerns. As RyeSAC Vice-President of finance and services, one of the groups in his portfolio is the Ryerson Women’s Centre.
“The Women’s Centre advocates the right to choose and any type of pro-life group wants to take that right away,” he said. “I don’t think it’s [RyeSAC’s] place to fund a group that goes against the views of one of our existing groups.”
As an official RyeSAC group, the LIAG would get funding from the student union and the ability to book rooms and put up posters around campus. They would also be able to apply to the Student Groups Committee for additional funding for different projects or events.
Last year, a group called The Choose Life Association applied to RyeSAC with a similar proposal. At the best attended meeting of the year, the RyeSAC board voted not to ratify the group. Marciniec says the LIAG’s proposal sounds similar to last year’s proposal and his concerns still exist.
“As president, I’m keenly aware that student groups need to benefit not only the members, but the Ryerson community as a whole,” he said.
Verticchio feels the same way. He said, “I want to hear what they have to say, but I’m still skeptical. Based on last year, I’m probably going to vote against it.”
Holden says she sees no reason why the group shouldn’t be ratified.
“We have all sorts of religious groups, so I don’t see why this group shouldn’t be allowed to come together and voice their opinions,” she said. “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, as long as they don’t hurt others in trying to voice it.”
Both Marciniec and Verticchio say that they see how this issue could cause tension between board members.
Hunking refused to comment.