In case you haven’t been following the news, let me break it down for you: the global economy is in the shitter. If you graduate this year, have fun trying to find a job. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon.
Despite the gloomy forecast, there is a feeling of optimism. Change is in the air. Although the Great Depression was one of the worst periods in Canada’s history, the outcome provided the base for the commitment to collectivism central to our national identity today. Minimum wage, unemployment insurance and social security were all created as reactions to the Depression. Sometimes it takes a complete meltdown to refocus priorities. When traditional economic procedures fail, great ideas become the new global currency.
Fortunately, Ryerson hasn’t been too badly affected by the current economic climate. While the school has lost some money in the market, it is also receiving a huge cash injection from the federal and provincial governments. Ryerson stands on a different precipice. Rather than the brink of doom, we are on the edge of greatness. With the highest growth of first-choice applicants from Ontario high schools, students are catching on. There is no doubt that Ryerson is a good school.
But it could be one of Canada’s great schools. Fortunately, the Eyeopener has some suggestions. This year’s magazine issue is dedicated to big (and small) ideas that Ryerson needs to be great.
Speaking of change, it’s hard to avoid the comparisons between newly-inaugurated American president Barack Obama and newly-elected Ryerson Students’ Union president Jermaine Bagnall. Both are charming, well-educated (Bagnall is a grad student), black men who appeared to have come out of nowhere to seize the presidency.
Both have promised that their election will mark the beginning of an increased spirit of bipartisanship. Bagnall’s Undivided slate swept the executive and has pledged to create more unity within the RSU, which will be a welcome change to the bickering and histrionics that have dominated this year’s board. But after witnessing Undivided’s reaction to winning on election night, I have my doubts.
Because the remarks were made at nearly 5 a.m. after staying up all night, I won’t repeat them here. But what Undivided made clear was not only their utter contempt for their opponents, but also for those students who had voted for the opposition. It was shameful and disappointing. Maybe a little humility is in order for Undivided: While your slate may have won the most votes, most students voted against you. Bagnall received 1329 votes for president. The other presidential candidates received a combined 2025 votes.
I have no doubt that the Undivided members are sincere in their promise to be tireless advocates for the rights of students. They are bright, passionate and committed. But they represent the interests of all students, not just the ones who voted for them. Instead of crushing the voices of dissent, they need to take them into consideration.
With a majority stake in the board, Undivided has the power to do a lot of good next year. Hopefully, that includes more respect for viewpoints other than their own. Take it from Obama’s presidential role model, Abraham Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”