A better union in five steps

In Editorial18 Comments

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By Shannon Higgins

As expected, the Students United slate swept the Ryerson Students’ Union election on Feb. 9.

But, like most ‘normal’ students, you probably don’t give a shit about this and you most definitely don’t follow petty RSU politics.

But I do (lucky me) and if you keep reading this editorial I’ll give you a $300, 000 reason to care about what’s going on in the Student Campus Centre. Here’s what you need to know about the election:

• The results were boring and painfully predictable.

• Only one team or ‘slate’ had a chance in hell of winning.

• Almost no one voted (BIG SURPRISE).

• And the status quo of RSU politics remains the same.

Yet again, the outgoing RSU executives handpicked their successors. Well, whoopee. No new faces. I’m not surprised.

Ryerson student politics weren’t always this boring. Back in 2009 RSU infighting drove President Sheldon Levy to pay for thousands of dollars for an audit from Deloitte to look for the source of systemic RSU bullshit.

That wad of cash might as well have been flushed down the drain — the audit’s suggestions were largely ignored by the RSU.

Today, RSU political infighting has reached a cease fire. But that’s because most dissenting and diverse student voices have been squashed by minions of the Canadian Federation of Students. In my opinion.

Now, stop drooling and read my earnest and heartfelt suggestions for a better student union in five easy steps.

1) Give away more free shit

Students are poor. Most love free shit — particularly free food. Stop wasting cash on buttons and posters and just give away free food. A surefire way to a student’s heart.

2) Stop taking stances on non-student issues and get local

The RSU lobbying about student fees, equity issues and Ryerson-specific education issues makes sense. Becoming involved in discussions about divisive international problems is just polarizing. Stay hyper-local, stop pushing an aggressive leftist agenda down our throats and students will connect better with your campaigns.

3) Ban slates during elections

The RSU slate system stops keen Ryerson students from becoming involved in student politics. It’s almost impossible for students to get elected on their own within the current system. Candidates should be forced to run alone and gather votes the old fashioned way. And what happened to the fabled days of campus politics where debates over policy could flourish? There is virtually no difference of opinion within the upcoming RSU executive team. This is a systemic problem and banning slates in the next election would help solve it.

4) Trim the executive fat

Why is the RSU spending approximately $30, 000 in salary for five executive positions? Let’s channel Rob Ford here and cut the exec team down to three positions.

5) Defederate from the CFS

Fuck the approximate $300, 000 in yearly CFS fees. Defederate and spend the cash on step one — more free shit. Flip to page eight to read more on the RSU and the history behind Ryerson student politics.


  1. Shannon –– if only The Varsity were asking these questions. U of T is heading into election season, and we’re expecting a replay of yours.

    What is true for RSU is also true for UTSU. New political space must be created.

  2. But, like most ‘normal’ students, you probably don’t give a shit about The Eyeopener and you most definitely don’t read it.

  3. So you suggest we should get rid of two exec positions, I can’t wait to hear which two you think we should cut… please let me know. Or perhaps you think exec members should work more than the typical 50-60 hours a week?

    I don’t get where your statement comes from especially given that I’m pretty sure your annual salary is more as editor than an RSU exec salary is not to mention that from what you’ve told me you took most of the summer off and worked at CBC.

    1. Hi Toby. Thanks for commenting. Just to clarify:

      – The Eyeopener EIC position only runs from the last week of August to April, and the EIC only gets paid between those months.

      I’ll send over the budget sometime this week, and you can see for yourself.

        1. Shannon,

          Why don’t you make public the Eyeopener budget. The Eyeopener has falsely claimed on several occasions that the levy that students pay into the Eyeopener is an RSU due.

          Please publicize the Eyeopener Budget – how much has the Eyeopener taken in this year? how much do you get paid? how much do other staff get paid?

          In addition, I find strange and racist that Eyeopener does nothing for Black History Month – but instead puts up lots of naked white people in its papers.

          1. Thanks for commenting. The Eyeopener budget is most certainly public. We have a semi-annual general meeting and an annual general meeting that presents the budget to the Ryerson community. Our upcoming AGM will be advertised in the paper ahead of the meeting.

  4. Toby,

    I’m surprised that the president of our students’ union is so concerned with the opinion of someone at the Eyeopener. Seems really petty to me.

    Maybe you’ve got too much time on your hands? Perhaps you should get off your ass and do something worthwhile for students.

    By the bye, I agree with most of the things the editor says here… but I’m just one student. What power do I have, right?

  5. According to Toby, he and other RSU Execs work 80 hour work weeks, so it makes sense that he has time to comment-quarrel with Shannon here. Stay tuned for their thumb wars tomorrow in the Hub!

  6. shannon how much do you make?
    how much do other staff make?

    why don’t you post the eyeopener budget online!

    i think its time students take over the eyeopener, its time we bring students to the meeting and just take it over!

    1. If it makes you feel better, students already run the Eyeopener. So that would mean that students would be taking it over…from students. Which happens every time a new masthead is elected.

  7. Get rid of the VP equity since we already a full time staff person doing that job, ( save 30K ) get rid of vp student life, we already a full time events person (save 30K), get rid of the executive director of outreach and communication , we already a president ( save 65K ) Get rid of the SCC GM , as we have full time staff already doing that job ( save 75K ) , get rid of the CFS ( save 400 k ) Get rid of the VP finance as we already have a full time staff person looking after the books ( save 30K ) . Now that we no longer have a radio station we save another 250K ….. a saving of STUDENT MONEY .

    1. You have a good idea vlad, but why don’t you flip getting rid of full-time staff instead of exec and save $195,000 vs only $90,000

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