Muhammad Ali Jabbar
Ryerson Students United
Profile by Eric-Emin Wood
Working with the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Muhammad Ali Jabbar advocated last year for a multifaith room – not for a new one, but for the right to merely have one. “The MSA was being kicked out of its own multifaith room,” he said, “so we actually had to lobby the university as well as the student campus centre to get results.”
There’s one in the student centre now. During his time on Ryerson’s board of governors, Jabbar says he advocated for improved student space, which has resulted in stronger chairs, cleaner tables, and the upgrading of computers in the W71 computer lab. “You notice a difference,” he says.
“Better lighting, better desks, better computer systems.” This kind of advocacy is one reason Jabbar decided to run for RSU president. “It was a natural progression of my activities and involvement in our student community,” he said. Waleed Elsayed, president of the MSA, has worked with Jabbar for two years.
This past year, Jabbar served as vice president of the MSA, helping organize events and securing Muslim students space for prayer. Elsayed praises Jabbar’s motivational and communication skills. “He’s a big-picture type of thinker,” Elsayed said, “which I think is really important.
He keeps on top of his delegates to make sure everyone’s doing what they say they’ll do.” If Jabbar wins the RSU elections, Elsayed said, “it’ll be a loss for the MSA.” Jabbar is running with Nora Loreto, who is seeking re-election as vp education, RSU board member Chris Drew who is running for vp finance, and Alam Ashraful, current vp student life, under the heading Ryerson Students United.
Loreto said Jabbar is an excellent candidate for RSU president because he can play to all sides. “I think that’s really important in a student union,” she said. “Because there’s always a ton of different opinions, and he’s really good at compromise, at getting people what they want, so that everybody’s happy.”
His team chose Ryerson Students United as their name because “most people, when they pick their slate, they’re not too concerned about all the facets we have (at Ryerson),” he said. If elected, Jabbar said he would like to concentrate on getting students priority over corporations in the student centre, lobbying the government for lower tuition fees, and working with the university to secure higher-quality study and fitness space.
He would also like to find a solution to the school’s problems with the TTC, and doesn’t approve of the mandatory $60 Metropass currently being offered.
Profile by Amy Sharaf
She’s a designer, a painter and a member of Ryerson’s SAE Formula One race team.
Now Sarah Turnbull hopes to add one more thing to her list of accomplishments: RSU president. Turnbull, a fourth-year Interior Design student, is the niece of legendary writer John Irving and says her creativity is what got her involved in student politics.
“I have the same drive (as Irving) but for arts and creating,” the 23-year-old said. “I enjoy creating things. I have a vision for Ryerson and I wanted that vision to be recognized. And the best way to do that (is) to get involved.”
Turnbull, a Regina native, spent two years studying fine arts at the University of Regina and dreamed of becoming an art history teacher before transferring to Ryerson. She’s campaigning on the Elect Connect slate which includes Simon Rossiter, running for vp Finance and Services, Rohan Singh for vp education, and Gaya Arasaratnam for vp student life and events. Though having never served as an RSU vice president, Turnbull is not worried about her political inexperience hurting her chances.
“If I’m political at all it’s because of the RSU. This is probably the peak of my political career,” she said. “I’ve done enough other things that I think I have the equivalent of holding a vp position.” Last year she served as RyeSAC (now the RSU) board director for the faculty of communication and design as well as Student Campus Centre Director.
She is currently president of the Interior Design Course Union. Singh stands behind his running mate. “I think she’s the best candidate for president since I’ve been here, (about) four years,” he said. “I think we finally have someone students can rally behind because of how inclusive she is. I think the fact that she’s not bringing politics into (the election) is going to make the environment in the office a lot healthier for everybody.”
Turnbull says the current administration has created a hostile environment, and her team wants to get rid of it. “If the current RSU (executive) is not there, the hostility won’t exist as much. “I feel that they’re nice people but I don’t think they’re doing what’s best for students,” she said.
Profile by Josh Visser
The way Gligor Lojovic sees it, this year’s RSU elections pits idealism against realism — special interests against the majority’s interest. “They (the RSU) are trying to tackle issues that are beyond their capabilities, and it’s a waste of money and time,” Lojovic told the Eyeopener.
“Their personal political views are being put over everybody.” With this frame of mind, Lojovic and several friends decided to run a third slate campaign to put “the focus back on Ryerson students.” The slate is running on a platform that doesn’t want “to save the world from the evils of Coca-Cola” but would rather focus on lobbying the Ryerson administration to fix longstanding problems such as RAMSS and course evaluations.
A first-year Mechanical Engineering student, Lojovic, 21, is politically inexperienced. For example, he gave the Eyeopener a reference which turned out to be negative. Fourth-year Aerospace Engineer student Granville Pais, running with Lojovic for vp finance and services, says what Lojovic lacks in political experience, he makes up in life experience. “He’s got all-around life experience,” said Pais. “Like, he got a whole lot of life experience out of just being a student at Ryerson.
He’s a pretty good guy. He’s fairly reliable, he’s very relaxed, he doesn’t like having too much pressure put on him,” said Pais of his running mate. Lojovic says his lack of involvement in student politics puts him in a better position to understand the average student.
“The general feeling I get from students is that that they are sceptical about the RSU’s involvement in student life,” Lojovic said.
He mentions that only one in 10 Ryerson students vote in RSU elections. He refers to the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a political role model and says he will take the input of students and his executive into consideration in all decisions. And he’s reliable and honest, said Ann Bicci, owner of Apache- Burgers, where Lojovic used to work.
Students could be taking a gamble on Lojovic and his team due to their lack of a political record, but Lojovic thinks that is the main reason why students should vote for him. “Its been the same groups running for the last 10 years and I think that’s caused a lack of involvement (from Ryerson students) and it would be positive to get someone new in there,” Lojovic said.
“Clearly, there is a need to do something different.”