By Matthew Chung
The current Ryerson Students’ Union executive will serve the rest of its mandate without its vice-president of finances and services.
Ram Sivapalan checked out last Friday after submitting his resignation to the students’ union board last week. The resignation will be formally accepted on March 8. Sivapalan, 22, has accepted a job as a union organizer for Unite Here.
The organization represents more than 450,000 active and 400,000 retired employees of the hotel, food service, gaming, textile and industrial laundry industries in the United States and Canada. Sivapalan planned to begin working in Sacramento, CA, this week.
“Union organizing is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” he said. “It’s like my dream job.” Sivapalan, who graduated last April with a degree in Information Management Technology, was offered the job in early February.
He said he didn’t go public until after the election because he was concerned the news would be a distraction. His departure leaves the current executive with a vacant spot until May 1, when the newly elected members take over. Sivapalan said vice-president finance and services-elect Chris Drew will help out where he can in the interim period.
The rest of the executive will also share Sivapalan’s duties, such as the monthly TTC Metropass sales and the upcoming student tax clinic. Sivapalan said he wrestled with the decision to either take the job or finish his term, but decided he had to take the opportunity.
“It would have been nice to have been offered this position starting May 1st,” he said, “but life unfortunately doesn’t happen like that. “I feel really confident about the executive that’s here and also the future executive.”
RSU President Rebecca Rose said Sivapalan will be missed but said she thinks it’s a decision any graduating student hoping for full-time employment could understand. “I’m happy that he got offered a position and it seems like a great opportunity for him,” she said. “I hope it works out for him.”
Sivapalan, who worked at the Working Students’ Centre before he was elected to the executive, remained closely involved with their causes, such as the Killer Coke and anti-Wal-mart campaigns. Angelica de Jesus, the centre’s events coordinator said Sivapalan was always approachable.
“He was really helpful to keep us motivated and inspired,” she said. Sivapalan was also one of the RSU’s most outspoken members. Even before he joined the executive, he actively petitioned the administration to sell fair-trade coffee on campus and successfully got some jackets in the Ryerson Bookstore pulled because they were produced in a country accused of using forced labour.
He was also part of a controversial “No” campaign credited with swaying votes during the 2004 RAC referendum, when the proposal to more than double mandatory athletic fees lost by a 516-vote margin. Sivapalan, vice-president education Nora Loreto and others distributed unapproved flyers around campus encouraging students to vote ‘no’ to any increase in tuition.
He also caused waves in the students’ union in 2004 when he and Loreto claimed RSU (then RyeSAC) was shutting them out of work-study positions they had been shortlisted for because their political views differed from the majority of the union’s executive.
They were eventually allowed to reapply, though the hiring process was later closed.