By Josh Wingrove
Students living in residence have a clear message for RyeSAC — get out.
Last week, a small group of residence students, led by second-year journalism student Nora Loreto, circulated a petition around Pitman Hall that urges RyeSAC to revoke the free rooms two of its executives have on campus.
Loreto planned to present the petition to the RyeSAC board of directors last night, after press time. There was a motion on the board’s meeting to not allow future executives a free space in residence.
“This is residence students speaking,” she said, “We want this scrapped so that next year things go back to the way they were.” Loreto, a second-year Pitman Hall resident, said two rooms make a noticeable difference. “The most compelling argument is that they are taking away rooms from students,” she said. “That is two 18 year-olds who now have to commute, or find a place to live downtown.”
Loreto aimed to have 400 signatures – nearly half of all residence students at Ryerson-before the board meeting.
The RyeSAC initiative was passed this summer to offer free room and board to President Dave MacLean and Cristina Ribeiro, vice president of student life and events. The motion granted each a free room in Pitman Hall and a meal plan at a total cost of about $15,000. MacLean and Ribeiro, who earn about $26,000 and $18,000 respectively, did not have to apply like normal applicants – their admission was guaranteed.
The move was based on a theory that putting the RyeSAC executives close to students would increase communication and make the council more effective. Loreto dismissed the merit of such an argument, saying the approximately 4 per cent of Ryerson students who live in residence do not represent the entire student population.
“It’s not working,” Loreto said. “You can’t just expect someone to know you because you live by them. It doesn’t happen by osmosis when you’re doing laundry.” Few students in Pitman Hall seemed to know who either MacLean or Ribeiro is.
One student who signed the petition is Lindsay Harris, a first-year Early Childhood Education student. “I signed because I don’t believe someone who makes $30,000 a year should live on campus,” said Harris. “If [MacLean] is supposed to have such a presence in the student body, why didn’t I know who he was?”
Some of the students who could identify MacLean were able to because they played poker with him.
“I would agree with them in some ways because we work a lot and we don’t spend a lot of time in residence,” MacLean said. “So it’s a pretty fair opinion for someone to say that they wouldn’t know me. “The outreach isn’t as easy as originally anticipated to be, but at the same time you can find a lot of people who do know who I am.”
He added that residence has floor events, instead of residence-wide events, which makes it hard for anyone to know people on other floors. MacLean and Ribeiro said it was great to see a petition, although the board of directors was already aware of the concern and will deal with the issue.
The motion was passed over the summer with minimal student consultation, a strategy Loreto does not agree with. “If this was supposed to be a good idea, they should have taken a year to figure it out,” she said.
“That’s the huge problem-that all this was done too quickly.”