By Alison Northcott
The Ryerson University Act will not be amended to increase the number of students on the board of governors, despite some students’ recommendations for more student presence on the 24-member board.
At the beginning of the school year, Ryerson put out a notice calling for recommendations for amendments to the Ryerson University Act, the legal document that governs the university and the board. Of the submissions received, the board selected four recommendations to present to the province for final approval. The recommended changes were approved by the board at its meeting on Monday.
But these amendments leave out some key suggestions put forth by the three student board members, Ryerson Students’ Union President Rebecca Rose, RSU vice-president education Nora Loreto and RSU board member, Muhammad Ali Jabbar.
One of the students’ suggestions sought to double the number of student seats on the board of governors. Of the 24 seats on the board, three are designated for students. But Loreto said she found out through an infoline e-mail sent to students, staff and faculty Nov. 24 that the recommendation had been shelved.
“It was too bad that we actually only heard about what had been decided through the infoline,” Loreto said. Loreto said she was pleased two of her recommendations — to allow international students to sit on the board and to change the name of Academic Council to Senate – made it to the next level, however she was disappointed some of her other recommendations were passed over. Another one of the eight recommendations put forth by the students sought to protect the RSU in the event of a disagreement with university administrators.
This was also passed over. Loreto and Rose said they’re worried that, if a conflict were to arise between the students’ union and the university, the administration could render RSU useless by suspending their access to student fees. “We’re always in a struggle to maintain our autonomy and maintain our services and our relevance among students,” Loreto said. During Monday night’s meeting, Rose asked Board Chair Michael Guerriere how the submissions were reviewed and selected. Guerriere said the final decision, made by him and Ryerson President Sheldon Levy, was simply “a judgment call.”
But this judgment has come into question by Rose, who thinks the results would have been different had more board members been a part of the discussion. “If the rest of the board had of seen our submission it would have been a whole different ball game,” Rose said.
“We would have been able to discuss it. There are a lot of people on (the board) with very brilliant minds who would probably love to discuss things who are very student-friendly and very interested in the university, so it’s kind of upsetting that we didn’t get a chance to talk about it with the rest of the board.”
The four amendments selected by the board will be submitted to the Province of Ontario for final approval. Meanwhile, Loreto said she will continue to pressure her fellow board members to support the students’ ideas. “Nobody here denies that (students) are the most important part of the university,” she said.
“As students, if we aren’t standing up and calling for this stuff, then we aren’t doing our jobs.”