By Nicole Crozier
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) Graduate Executive Committee is struggling to get the attention of the students that they represent.
The graduate executive byelection is tomorrow and the grad exec can’t find any grad students to participate.
There are three executive committee positions up for grabs — deputy chairperson finance, deputy chairperson student life and events, and member at large — but chairperson Jermaine Bagnall and deputy chairperson education Lyndall Mussellman have received only one signed nomination from 1,600 eligible graduate students.
Bagnall says he’s been out talking to people, but finding interest is difficult.
“[There’s] not a high rate of interest,” said Mussellma.
If the positions cannot be filled, the graduate executive committee will have to appoint students to the positions.
Ryerson’s school of graduate studies began enrolling students in 2000 with three graduate programs.
Today the school has 26 master’s programs and seven doctoral programs. Many graduate students will spend two years at Ryerson and some even less.
From 2006 to 2007, the graduate population increased more than 50 per cent.
The growth happened way too fast, said Mussellman.
“There is no sense of community for grad students,” she said. Mussellman and Bagnall said a common space would help solve this problem.
“[Graduate students] are tucked away in basements… and have a hard time organizing themselves socially,” said Mussellman.
David Fourney, a graduate student working on his PhD in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering, said that the lack of participation from graduate students is because of the nature of the programs.
“Of the 2,000 [graduate] students, a majority of them are masters students. They are there for one year or two at most. They don’t have the time to deal with student government,” said Fourney, who holds a position on the School of Graduate Studies Council.
Another problem, he said, is the lack of visibility.
“Because the graduate executive is buried within the student union, it’s very hard for the grad exec to be seen by other grad students… but it’s very effective with the tools it has.”
The graduate executive falls under the RSU umbrella and working within the parameters of the larger body can be frustrating, said Bagnall. The budget, for example, must be approved by the RSU before the graduate executive can proceed with spending.
According to Mussellman, the graduate executive may work towards breaking off from the RSU in the future.
Bagnall said that a lot of work needs to be done before the graduate executive will be in a position to separate.
“Autonomy for the grads will eventually come, but a lot of ground work must be laid out correctly prior to that move,” he said.
However, both Bagnall and Mussellman recognize that under the RSU they are able to do things that they wouldn’t be able to do on their own. The RSU provides support for the graduate executive including operational facilities, advocacy and events.
The graduate executive has not made autonomy a top priority this year said Bagnall.
“ We are focused on getting a more engaged graduate student body.”