Referendum results challenged

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By Emma Prestwich

The referendum to increase student fees by $4 annually may have passed, but one student will not take yes for an answer.

Karol Pawlina, the third-year biomedical engineering student who spearheaded the ‘No’ campaign, said he plans to launch an appeal to the Ryerson Board of Governors to have the referendum results thrown out.

“If they can’t find stable funding, we shouldn’t fund it at all,” Pawlina said.

Last week’s referendum passed by 210 votes, with 1,302 voting yes and 1,092 voting no. A third option to decline to vote drew 57 students.

Pawlina, who said he disagrees with the $4 student levy on the principle of involuntary donation, said he can appeal on the grounds that the ‘Yes’ side broke campaign rules.

His complaints include claims that the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) committee spent more than their $500 campaign limit and they used their own committee funds.

He also claims refugee program supporters tore down his black-and-white posters and bribed students with “Timbits for votes.”

Jacky Habib, one of the members of the WUSC executive, said the organization didn’t break any rules during its campaign.

“It seems to me the reason he’s appealing is that he isn’t satisfied with the results,” Habib said.

A challenge of the results has to be received within a week, according to Catherine Redmond, assistant secretary of the Board of Governors.

After 10 days, the Elections Procedure Committee issues a decision, which “is final and not subject to appeal,” Redmond said.

There is also no cap on how much money a referendum group can spend, she added.

Pawlina also takes issue with the fact that Gerard Byamungu, the first student to be sponsored by the student refugee program, put forward the proposal and would also be benefitting from the money.

But Byamungu said while he did approach the board with the proposal, the local WUSC committee made plans to hold a referendum a long time ago.

He also said he thinks the student levy money will be used to support future student refugees, as he now works two jobs and no longer relies on the WUSC program for support.

“I’m on OSAP, I’m kind of grown up now,” Byamungu said. “You grow and become independent and provide for yourself, it always feels better.”

While students were torn on the referendum results, only 10 per cent of Ryerson students voted in the referendum and some said they didn’t even know about it.

“I live under a rock, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said first-year student Wendy Tam.

While Byamungu said he wished WUSC had more time and resources to reach more students, Pawlina said he thinks that his posters, which appeared about a week before the referendum, had an impact on the close vote.

“Students wouldn’t know about the referendum if it wasn’t for me,” Pawlina said, adding that while he trusts the boards’ judgment, he thinks he would win a bid to appeal.

“If [the appeal] succeeds, then I do have reason to question the results,” Pawlina added.

Photo: Chelsea Pottage


  1. There were no posters in the TRS building regarding the vote time, schedule, purpose, and etc. Just toonies and Tim Hortons when you vote “yes”.

    It would have been better if there was a notice on the main page informing students to vote but instead was deliberately poorly marketed to quietly be passed.

    TRS students like myself only received by email about this referendum 24-hours before it closed.

  2. Dear Jennifer,
    1. SRP says that their posters were brought down often.
    2. There was a WUSC ref proclamation online, on
    Ryerson Today, On blackboard (under Hot links; written in REd to make it clear enough!)
    I find it unfair to the people who did the campaign to say that it was “deliberately poorly marketed”
    The campaigns only too 4 days. SRP had only 5 student volunteers to do all the marketing task. You may remember how busy the past two week were.
    You’ll realize how hard it to get students attention. Information was there/is still there. The question is how many people want to look at it?

    1. By writing, “You may remember how busy the past two week were,” you have just indicated that you have poor time management.

      Regarding the posters being “brought down often” you should have followed TRS’ poster policy for stamping the posters at RCS and posting them in the designated “red” board. There were posters on the red boards throughout the week to vote “yes” for Tim Hortons.

  3. The No campaign has one person my friend KAROL PAWLINA!

    He played by the rules and gets spitted on by the Eye Opener.

    He made this a issue! I hope he does appeal and I hope that he wins. So Johan where is your sympathy for Karol. He was fighting 1 on 5 and still cam close.

  4. Way to go Karol! I support your fight in the WUSC Referendum. i voted no. Had i known, that you were fighting it alone, i would have been happy to help you campaign no in the TRS building.

    I agree, who is Ryerson to tell me, where to send my $4.00. I do know that it is a charity, but i myself am a charity case. Why should me a charity case myself have money taken from me by force when i myself am in need. Student have their own voice and let me them spend their $4.00 so freely as they choose.

    I Sincerely hope that you do win the appeal. and continue the fight for the other 47% of students that voted no!

  5. Suck it up, buttercup. You can either be bitter and say the other side played unfair or honour what gonads you have left and admit that the students have spoken.

  6. It’s $4, wow ur fighting $4 so a student from another country can come to Ryerson, way to be a douchebag, yes we are all going to be in debt, that is what u signed up for when coming to university, but hello.. $4 per year, you can lose that in a year by dropping coins by accident.
    I can understand if it was like $50 or even $20 but come on, $4.. really?

  7. Why don’t you guys just own up to it and just say you don’t want to help out poor black people from another country?

  8. I have no problem with $4 to help out somebody who really needs it. That’s not excessive or waste. A better target for those who want to stop the waste of student money would be the $10 that goes to CKLN from each student. Where’s the benefit in that? Now THAT’s waste on constant ongoing basis. There’s the scandal. How about a referendum that? Huh?

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