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