By Stacey Askew and John Mather
The Ryerson Students’ Union election has been cancelled — because perhaps for the first time in Ryerson history, none of the executive positions are being contested.
Current vice-president education Nora Loreto is running for president; Chris Drew, vice-president finance, is running for re-election; and board members Heather Kere and Ibrahim Snobar are running for vice-president education and vice-president student life and events, respectively.
They are running under the Ryerson Students United banner. Students will now choose to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for each candidate in a plebiscite on February 13 — something that hasn’t happened since at least 1962, the earliest date the Eyeopener traced back. Loreto said running uncontested was bittersweet.
“It’s more a referendum on me instead of on who’s the better candidate.” “I was looking forward to some competition,” said Snobar in agreement. “I’m not happy about the uncontested part of my nomination at all.”
Sanjid Anik planned to contest the vice-president education position, but was disqualified because one of his required 50 nomination signatures was a part-time student.
Eric Newstadt, the Chief Returning Officer, said there was “discussion” of letting Anik run anyway but it was decided against. “What I’m paid to do is uphold the bylaws, not bend them and break them so that it looks good.”
“I think it’s a big problem that there’s only one slate,” Jonathan Vandersluis, president of Hillel and a RSU board member, said. The aerospace engineering student had considered running with two other board members, but they opted to pursue graduate school and full-time job opportunities instead.
Since Rebecca Rose was elected president two years ago, Vandersluis said partisan lines were drawn between Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) supporters and those who wanted to distance the union from the national student lobby group.
He said Ryerson Students United will continue to align closely with the CFS. In fact, potential disagreements with CFS-friendly staff played a significant role in his decision not to run.
“I didn’t want my next year to be a giant headache,” Vandersluis said, adding he had difficulties working on the board all year because he often opposed the motions and activities of the executive. “I don’t feel like my voice is heard or respected.”
He said the same held for other members who didn’t support this year’s executive. He said if his slate were to run, it would have campaigned on a platform that emphasized campus issues.
“It doesn’t matter to me what’s going in the States,” he said, reffering to anti-war protests supported by the RSU. “I don’t think it really relates to Ryerson students.”
Drew and Loreto said if students think their viewpoints aren’t being represented, then they should run for elections. The fact that they aren’t, Loreto said, is because the RSU simply hasn’t created an opposition this year.
“I think that people generally supported what the RSU did this past year and that’s why they aren’t running.”
Ryerson has elected a CFS-friendly slate for the last two years. The year before Dave MacLean, an independent president, won, but only by about 30 votes.
Two of the members on the MacLean’s slate were voted in as well, but Rose won the vice-president of education race. Derek Isber, vice-president of finance on MacLean’s slate said he is still surprised they won.
“It’s very difficult, (CFS is) essentially a political machine.” He was disappointed to hear there was only one slate running but admitted it would have been difficult to succeed.
“The CFS slate for the last two years has dominated … an individual can’t bring that kind of presence, I don’t think”. Jesse Greener, Chairperson of the CFS, said he believes the job done by representatives won’t be any worse without a traditional election, whatever the candidates’ views may be.
Meanwhile, Vandersluis hopes there will be more competition in the future.
“For me, the RSU is pretty much a black box. And unless your part of that group, you can’t see inside the box.” For the Board of Governors, only three faculties will vote between candidates: business, engineering and community service. The rest will be acclaimed.