By Erin Valois
Ivan Joseph wants you to vote in next week’s referendum. But Ryerson’s athletic director isn’t scrambling to get your vote.
Walking around campus, it’s hard to tell that students are days away from a referendum to hike their tuition fees by $126.
A few signs are scattered around buildings on campus. They are difficult to read, with grey lettering on a black background, and say little about the purpose of a fee increase. There have been no class talks and little canvassing of the campus.
Last week’s men’s basketball playoff game was one of the few times a rallying cry was made for athletic’s sake. And even then, Joseph’s administration were preaching to the choir of mainly varsity athletes in attendance.
Ryerson students currently pay $61 to athletics in ancillary fees, a provincial low.
In 2004, a referendum to raise athletic fees by $76 failed after 60 per cent of students voted no. The university’s “Yes” campaign was vague and couldn’t beat the aggressive “No” campaign run by a group of students.
But Joseph says he is not willing to adopt the “No” campaign’s tactics to win this year’s referendum.
“Apparently last referendum, they sent out a massive email and we don’t want to do that,” he said.
“We don’t want to go to classrooms because we don’t want to ambush students. But if the “No” side starts going to classrooms, then we will too.”
This strategy could change if the Ryerson Students’ Union decides to support the university’s “Yes” campaign.
At press time, Sid Naidu, vice-president student life and events, planned to present a motion at the board of governors meeting on March 10 for the RSU to endorse the “Yes” side. He says the RSU should support the referendum to enhance the quality of student life.
“I believe in this. I believe sports can help build a community,” he said. “I’ve been talking to a lot of students about how the RAC (Recreation and Athletics Centre) is not suiting their needs.”
Naidu says because the RAC is not accessible, some students are left out of an important part of campus life. His strategy is to educate as many students as possible about the referendum, but don’t expect him to throw any of his trademark events. Instead, he will take to the streets with a soccer ball.
“I want to inform students who won’t get a chance to go to an event,” he said. “I’m going to be walking around with a soccer ball and hanging out with students to see what they think and getting them to be active.”