By Danielle Wong
Abdullah Snobar knows how to wear a tuxedo.
Snobar, president of the Ryerson Commerce Society (RCS), struts across the large banquet hall with Ryerson President Sheldon Levy and big brother Ibrahim (Abe) Snobar. Abdullah steers the trio to a table where a third Snobar awaits: Abe’s twin brother, Mohammed.
All three Snobars laugh and take turns shaking hands with Levy, occasionally posing for photographers.
Tonight may be the Ted Rogers Appreciation Gala, but it’s difficult to separate the name Snobar from the affair. “If you asked me three years ago if this was possible, I would’ve said no,” Levy said at the gala. “I just sit back and watch in amazement.”
The gala at the Liberty Grand was the grand finale to the society’s first annual Frost Week, welcoming business students back to school. And with a live jazz band, a reception on the balcony and even a Ted Rogers School of Management ice display for the 300 faculty and students on hand, the RCS has stakead a claim as Ryerson’s new elite.
Ironically, Ted Rogers couldn’t attend because of health issues, but that didn’t seem to dim Snobar’s smile. “We’ve been so quiet for so many years,” the third-year hospitality and tourism management student said. “We wanted to do something … to make sure we’re recognized among other schools,” Snobar said.
But some say Abdullah Snobar’s success is not entirely his own, claiming older brother Abe Snobar, VP student life and events, has a hand in the society’s rise.
But tonight, it’s all about building the image, and Abdullah knows what he’s doing. The RCS was founded in 2002. “[We wanted] better representation for commerce students — not only on campus, but national recognition,” said Dave MacLean, the first official RCS president and ex-RyeSAC (now RSU) president.
Prior to MacLean’s term, the RCS was an unofficial group led by a committee made up of several business programs, funded by then-dean of business, Tom Knowlton.
But communications issues between the RCS and RyeSAC meant the fledgling group got little money, until it got access to student levies when it became an official student levy group in 2003.
“There were too many communication barriers and not enough action,” MacLean said of the frosty relations.
The RCS received $21.67 from each undergraduate business student in 2007, an amount approved by Ryerson’s Board of Governors.
Larger than a course union, the RCS now represents more than 6,000 students across four programs within the business faculty, more than a third of Ryerson’s student population.
In the last two years, the RCS has also organized September frosh weeks specifically for the business faculty, a feat only matched by the Ryerson Engineering Students’ Society (RESS), the second-largest such society on campus.
The RCS has been active throughout 2007, organizing charity events for Yonge Street Mission and stealing the engineering president’s prized golden helmet.
Snobar estimates the RCS shelled out $60,000 for Frost Week, drawing most of their budget from the student levy. The RCS came up with the rest of the money through donations.
He says his administration has been especially successful because his executives have overcome the compatibility problems with the RSU that plagued the society in the past.
However, RSU President Nora Loreto isn’t enamoured by the growing influence of the Snobars. “It’s hard to tell who’s working on whose behalf,” she said.
While the RESS has signed a friendship pact with the RSU preventing an RESS executive from sitting on the RSU director’s board, the RCS has refused to sign such a pact, Loreto said.
The situation is “tricky,” she said, because the two Snobars have blurred the lines between the two groups. Abdullah Snobar is currently the business faculty director on the RSU, while Abe Snobar is also the advisory councillor for the RCS.
In fact, big brother Abe came up with the idea of the Ted Rogers Appreciation Gala, Abdullah said. But Abdullah doesn’t see any conflicts of interest. “[Abe Snobar] is a factor in why we’ve grown — not the reason,” he said.
“Abe is an advisor. Why wouldn’t I use him?” And Abdullah maintains Abe doesn’t do his work for him. “I work with Abe as a partner, not a brother,” he said.