RSU GETS THE GREEN LIGHT FROM STUDENTS

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BY SHIRLEY LIN

Pass: new vice-president in 2010

Students will soon have a new vice-president equity in the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) after a surprise re-vote passed the controversial motion at the semi-annual general meeting (SAGM) on Nov. 11.

The decision was overturned after a member, Marina Sevastianov, changed her mind and called to reconsider the motion due to an offensive comment made earlier in the meeting.

David Fourney, a hearing impaired student, had called for recess to give the sign-language interpreters a break.

That’s when Mark Single, a former RSU presidential candidate, said he would offer his services and yell into Fourney’s ear, drawing gasps from the crowd of about 200. Single later apologized. “That’s why we need a VP of equity,” yelled one student.

But some members denounced the voting process, calling it undemocratic and unfair.

After the initial vote failed to pass, some students left the meeting during a recess. Shortly after everyone reconvened, a second vote was cast.

Mitch Reiss, who is on the RSU equity committee and against a vice-president equity, said this vote was unfair. “If someone wanted to overturn the decision, it should have been done right after the decision was initially made… The only reason I stayed is because I heard people from the RSU planning to get the decision overturned.”

Anesh Maharaj, part of the RSU’s student group committee, also called it undemocratic. “A lot of people [who] voted ‘no’ had to leave early due to personal reasons. After they left, a lot of new people joined the meeting who didn’t hear the arguments before… They know what they came to vote for.”

The last time the students’ union created a new position was in 1984 for vice-president finance. A new executive now will come at a price tag of $27,000.

“And [in] 2009, we’re twice the size of 24,000 students… twice the budget,” said Toby Whitfield, vice-president finance and services. “So I think it’s time for a VP of equity.”

Rodney Diverlus, RSU’s equity commissioner, said a full-time staff person is needed to deal with issues such as homophobia and racism. “I’m angry that people can sit here and tell me that these issues don’t deserve a vice-president,” he charged.

But others still say that it’s too much power for one person and the union needs to give more control to the equity commissioner and officer.

Naeem Hassen, leader of the “Drop Lies” campaign, is not deterred by defeat. He said the campaign’s goal was to create awareness.

 

Pass: Skinner bursary

The Christopher Skinner Memorial Bursary will be established in memory of the Ryerson graduate murdered on Adelaide Street last month.

The motion passed at the meeting with no opposition.

The grant, formerly the Queer Bursary, is a scholarship for self-identified gay or transgendered students displaying commitment to community through education or social change, according to RyePRIDE coordinator Victoria Pinhorn.

“I think that anything in his memory is a wonderful tribute to the beautiful person that he was,” said childhood friend, Mandi Trotter Daignault.

Another motion passed for a permanent memorial on campus. According to RSU president Jermaine Bagnall, there are no designs or sites set.

Skinner, 27, graduated in 2006 from graphic communications management. He was beaten and run over by an SUV blocks away from Ryerson. Nick Lypaczewski

 

Pass: lobby to ban water bottles

A motion to petition for the banning of water bottle sales on campus passed at the meeting last week.

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) will also lobby to increase the number of water fountains.

Bottled water is already banned at RSU events.

The union argues bottled water privitizes water, which should be a public service. The RSU will have to work with the university to ban bottled water sales.

“By saying bottled water is bad for you, I’m going to take it away and I’m going to give you a water fountain, that’s sort of treating you like a child,” said President Sheldon Levy.

First-year student Robin Tarnowetzki thinks banning bottled water will result in students purchasing unhealthy products. “If you’re going to ban plastic bottles, why not ban the unhealthy ones?” Tarnowetzki asked. – Jen Chae

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