By Maurice Cacho
Associate News Editor
In less than one week, you, the students of Ryerson, will decide who runs your student union.
Your vote will determine who handles your 70-odd dollars paid annually, who plans the week of welcome and who fights for your educational and financial rights. Now, if you have any idea of how a federal or provincial election is run, this election, for the first time, will be nothing like it. That’s because two executives (and at least one person who’s running in this election) changed the rules on how the elections will be run.
Let’s take a closer look at what this means. Imagine Stephen Harper and someone who worked for him hired the person who ran the next federal elections. That’s what’s happening here. You see, there’s a group that makes changes to by-laws (which are the policies that dictate how things are run at RSU). It consists of Chris Drew, current president Rebecca Rose, v.p. finance and services Ram Sivapalan and Annie Lau.
Drew is running for an executive position in this election, and some of the changes his group made are scary. The Chief Returning Officer is now hired by the current president and a staff member of RSU. Before, the entire Board of Directors and the Executive Committee decided who would fill the CRO’s shoes. Basically, the selection of the election “master” is in the hands of the person elected last year, and someone that works for her.
Two members of the current executive are seeking re-election under these new rules, Heck — there’s more transparency in Mexican elections. And some of the other changes are also quite strange. For example, in a federal or provincial election, candidates such as Stephen Harper, Paul Martin or Howard Hampton couldn’t stand outside of polling stations telling you to vote for them. But since the RSU’s by-law committee changed the rules, it will be permitted here.
This year, expect to see candidates facing off outside of polling stations, hounding you to vote for them. They might as well peer over you at the ballot box, whispering suggestions in your ear. There used to be a rule preventing this savage style of campaigning on election days, but not anymore.
Then if all hell breaks loose because of this, somebody has to sort out the mess. To complain, candidates can go to a group called the Election Appeals Committee. However, as a result of updated by-laws (again, made by a group that includes one person running in this election), the four people on this Elections Appeals Committee are chosen by the CRO and a non-voting staff member. Before, the four members of this committee were selected based on input from over two dozen board directors.
I think the old way was more democratic than this lanky slimmed-down version. When students cast their ballots from Feb. 13 to Feb. 15, don’t be surprised if you see carnage in the halls. A university campus is a place where freedom of political thought and expression should take precedence.
But unfortunately that seems not to be the case with these new rules.