BY SHIRLEY LIN
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) is silencing the Working Students’ Centre (WSC) by shutting it down, leaving the group without its own office this fall, say former members. “It’s not okay to cut the Working Students’ Centre,” said Robert Heydari, who was coordinator two years ago. “If there’s a problem, they should be fixing that.” Instead, it will be occupied by the new Students Against Racism group, created last January. However the WSC, a community service group that promotes student labour rights, will still be operating through the RSU office staffed by a part-time and full-time worker. Heydari said that there’s a conflict of interest by shirley lin in their work advocating for workers’ rights and having the RSU as boss. He added that the students who sought advice from the centre were often those who had RSU work-study jobs and the centre wanted to plan a campaign about it. “WSC had identified a program that the RSU was exploiting…so they needed to neuter us,” said Heydari. “The Working Students’ Centre is not being taken over,” said Liana Salvador, VP education. “We’re shifting the work to our office which is where we operate a number of our other services.” Former colleagues Karen Warren and Jessica Ponting say that removing the WSC from the list of service groups from the student handbook and lack of advertising space in it, along with losing an independent working space, is a sign that they’re being shut down. “We found that it was very underutilized,” said Toby Whitfield, VP finance and services. “Not many students were actually visiting the centre…therefore this year, we decided to convert that space into the new Students Against Racism office. There won’t be a physical office, but if students want information, we’ll make it available in the second floor lounge.” The former members also said the RSU has ignored their issues which were brought up at last year’s board meeting. Ex-members felt their campaigns were unrelated to their work. Salvador agrees there were WSC-related campaign issues. “Not enough campaigns were done last year, so we need to do more work,” she said.