As about 96 per cent of you don’t know, online voting for the Senate and Board of Governors elections runs until tomorrow. Only four per cent of students turned out to vote last year, and while these elections aren’t as high-profile as those for the Ryerson Students’ Union, they’re still pretty damn important.
The Board and the Senate make many of the core decisions relating to your education, and you elect the student representatives that sit on these boards. Last year, Senate was responsible for approving a fall reading break, minors in journalism and fashion, and a new process to ease students who have been required to withdraw from their program back into school. They also deal with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which governs public access to information about the university, as well as use of Turnitin.com.
The Board of Governors was the body that passed the motion to approve funds for Maple Leaf Gardens. They also approve the university’s budget every year, and based on that budget, decide whether or not to hike your tuition. While the RSU provides a lot of useful services for students, and members often advocate for issues that the Board or Senate deal with, like tuition fees, they don’t have the final say in any of these big decisions.
Much of the Board of Governors is composed of bigwigs who are financial stakeholders in the community, like the CEOs of RBC and Rogers Communications, menswear retailer Harry Rosen and major board members of Cineplex Entertainment and Torstar Corporation. While it looks good, business-wise for Ryerson to have these people involved in the financial matters of the university, they’re not primarily concerned with students’ interests. There are only three student representatives that you can elect to advocate for what you care about, and yet only around 1500 of approximately 34,000 eligible students actually voted in last year’s elections.
There are 51 members on Senate, and 12 student representatives. From attending Senate meetings, it’s easy to tell that students have a role in the decision-making, and if their voices are not necessarily respected, they’re at least heard, and there are enough of them that if they wanted to band together to speak up for a particular issue, they would make up almost a quarter of the committee.
So, while we would never be ones to push you to vote, we think it’s important you know who’s calling the shots at school, and you’re the ones responsible for electing them.