By Maurice Cacho
Associate News Editor
The RSU, which denounces partisan politics on campus, held an event Tuesday evening at which Toronto-Centre NDP candidate Michael Shapcott planned to criticize the Liberal government and promote his party’s election platform.
According to pamphlets distributed by the RSU, a focus of the evening was the government’s treatment of U.S. soldiers seeking asylum in Canada. Shapcott told the Eyeopener he also plans to use the event to build support for his campaign.
“I have a very specific goal in being there, and that is to shame the federal Liberals and speak of how the New Democrats stand up against this (issue),” he said before the event. Nora Loreto, RSU vice-president education, maintains the event was not meant to build support for the NDP in the upcoming federal election. “We’re non-partisan, so obviously it would not be,” she said. “He has a lot of activity with the war resisters.”
However, this confuses third-year business management student Jason Jagpal. “It just seems very hypocritical that they’re doing something like this, especially so close to the election date,” said Jagpal, who is also the RSU business faculty director.
“It just goes to show you that this is censorship in (the) RSU showing what students should believe in rather than (letting) students decide by themselves.” Before the winter break, RSU refused to give full status to politically affiliated student groups, which would have guaranteed them funding and room-booking priority.
At the time, RSU said it wouldn’t support any particular party because they wanted students to be free from outside political influence. A flyer distributed for the event encourages people to use the federal election “to ensure the government funds education and health care and not war.”
Ian Ferraro, leader of the young Conservative student group at Ryerson, agrees with Jagpal. “They’ve been going on and on about how they want to educate voters in a non-partisan way, and then they go on to have this event with just the one candidate,” said the third-year business management student. However, his counterpart at the Ryerson Young Liberals, Jay Telegdi, liked that someone of Shapcott’s stature came to speak at Ryerson.
“He is involved with the war resistance movement in his private life, he’s very active, and he’s a high-profile guy in the community,” said the third-year Business Management student. While politics professor Neil Thomlinson thinks it’s a good idea for the RSU to educate students, he is concerned with their stance.
“You can’t have it both ways,” he said. “If you want to claim to be non-partisan, than you better behave non-partisan.”