HALF THE STUDENTS, HALF THE FUN

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by Samantha Saunders 

Ryerson Students’ Union took a thrifty approach to this year’s Parade and Picnic, but their penny-pinching may be why the event attracted half as many students as last year.

The RSU spent $20,000 less than last year’s executive on this year’s Annual Parade and Picnic at the Toronto Islands. RSU President Rebecca Rose estimated that 2,000 students attended.

Polish Student Society public relations executive Magdalena Brzoska said attending this year’s Parade and Picnic just wasn’t a priority.

“There are better events,” said Brzoska. “I didn’t see anyone getting all crazy around campus. The only time I heard about it was through flyers and no one explained anything.”

Last year, RyeSAC had a more in-your-face approach to the festivities. Former RyeSAC president Dave MacLean wore the trademark Rams horns and a cape and vice-president student life and events Cristina Ribeiro rapped on stage.

Rose doesn’t “have horns” and said she is “not one to paint (herself) blue and gold.” She said this year’s executive shows its school spirit “by being committed to the student union.” Rose called this year’s event “amazingly successful.”

Dave MacLean disagrees. Although he said this year’s event had “some improvements,” he believes “attendance wasn’t up to par.

“I don’t think (the RSU executives) understand what a student event is,” said MacLean. “I just don’t think they care about student events.”

When asked what his role in the parade was, Ram Sivapalan, vice-president Finance and Services, said he found the question “very harassing” and left the room.

After consulting with Alex Kerner, the RSU office co-ordinator, Sivapalan returned and said the RSU “ran the Parade and Picnic…handed out water in the Quad (and ensured) that no one got hurt.”

The 2005 students’ events budget totals $172,300, approximately $70,000 less than the amount allocated in the 2004 budget. This year’s event cost an estimated $60,000, compared to the $80,000 spent last year.

MacLean said that last year’s Parade and Picnic was more expensive because Canadian rocker Matthew Good performed for an estimated $20,000.

This year featured performances by K’naan, Metric, Brownman of Chiva and others. MacLean said spending that much money on an event with no mainstream acts is “silly.”

RSU’s Vice-President Student Life and Events Alam Ashraful said the student union was very careful with its money.

“(We) spent wisely and carefully, (unlike) last year,” said Ashraful. He said the “diverse lineup” was a “change in the history of Ryerson.”

Second-year business management student Andi Poro attended the Parade and Picnic both years. He said this year’s event had poor attendance because there were “no real artists” and there was a lack of good advertisement. He also felt the RSU lacked school spirit.

“I feel bad for the (first-year students),” he said. “No one tried to make them feel more at home.”

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