Matthew Cwihun is running for director of campaigns and equity. Photos by Mohamed Omar

CESAR members fight back

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Political members are speaking out against the new by-laws that are inhibiting them from getting involved and the lack of transparency from executives. News editor Rebecca Burton reports

Political members are outraged over the lack of transparency and democracy as the Continuing Education Students’ Association at Ryerson (CESAR) enters its April 4 election.

“The culture at CESAR is very closed,” said Matthew Cwihun, part-time student running uncontested for director of campaigns and equity. “There is a division within the current executive. They seem scared of something and want to keep a lot of things hidden.”

The new by-laws implemented last fall made it so only 22 students were eligible to run in the election — eight of which are board members and executives. Of the three political membership meetings held so far, a political member must have attended two of the three to be eligible. Other members that have attended only one will be able to vote if they go on April 4, but this is only a handful more.

These by-laws were created by members that are not even members of the executive or the organization anymore, said Shinae Kim, current director of finance and services. For the first time CESAR will also not be taking nominations off the floor.

“The election process should have been more open. Before the by-law changes there were 200 to 300 class representatives with [voting cards],” said Kim.

Kirikaran Nirmalanantham, a past board member, was interested in getting re-involved. He was only able to make it out to one membership meeting and was therefore ineligible. “It has eliminated the amount of participation and the number of people that can [get involved],” he said.

Kim said it is a major problem for the nature of students at CESAR, including parents, students with part-time jobs and distance education students with disabilities that comprise the organization.

The internal organization itself is rife with infighting. Problems that outside members want to understand.

Cwihun hit a roadblock when he tried to attend a board meeting on March 28, 2012. Members of the executive asked it to be a closed meeting when it was made clear other members were in house. A motion passed and Cwihun was told to leave the meeting regardless of his political membership status. He was even denied access to agenda minutes.

The meeting in question shut its doors directly before a motion to impeach Kim, the fourth impeachment against the executive.

Kim said the impeachment has been cleared since she confronted the individual, citing he had no cause for the motion. Kim called the environment in the office “male dominated.”

“I survived,” she said. Fellow political member Annie Hyder, running for director of membership and communications against current exec Sergio Ortiz, attempted to clarify the issue of withholding agendas and minutes at the last meeting.

Hyder presented a motion to release all board meeting minutes from May 2011 to present to all political members via email.

The motion was denied and Ortiz replied to her email by calling it “out of order.” In an email to her, he wrote, “the problem I found is that all of a sudden you want to make these available at the end of the fiscal year when there will likely be new execs coming in and elections are also on the eve.”

Ortiz declined to comment before press time.

Hyder was granted her personal request for minutes but was told the November and December 2011 ones were missing.

“There is a lack of procedural fairness in a part-time organization whose mandate is to provide for marginalized students,” she said.

Hyder will team up with Kim and Cwihun along with William Morrow Oxley, running for director of events and workshops and Harmonie Wong, running for director of academics and policy as “CESAR United.” Once the nominations had been submitted, the group started talking, realizing they want to take the organization in a more transparent and accountable direction.

Familiar faces such as Ortiz, Vernal Banton, current director of events and workshops and Ugo Asagwara, current director of academics and policy will be re-running this Wednesday.

“You should only be hiding if you have something to hide,” said Cwihun.


  1. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOR WRITING THIS!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. yeah – there are currently at least three other women on the board, as was made evident at the Wednesday meeting.

    Kim’s statement is misleading,
    The board is not some hegemonic patriarchy – it is made up of a number of underrepresented groups, male and female.

    1. I understand RB you are bitter because you’ve been banned from the CESAR office, but I would like to remind you that this was done because of a complaint from staff. Perhaps Eyeopener can write about the office ban next.

  3. Actually, Kim’s statement is true. The board was largely comprised of men, especially the fact that Kim was the ONLY woman on the exec. The slate that she ran with is different than in the sense that it had more women and was very diverse too.

  4. The CESAR Board needed to hear this. Rebeccan wrote a great article! I understand a board member who is writing on this commentary is bitter because of being banned from the CESAR office for harassing a staff, but please keep the negative comments to yourself. Thank you.

  5. Why was one executive banned from the office(heard it had to do with harassment claims against that executive)? Why were there several impeachments? Why was one director removed from office? Why is the board denying members from having minutes? What are they hiding?

  6. First of all, I am not banned from any campus space, student centre or ryerson in general, so perhaps you have me confused.
    secondly, the executive at one point was made up of two women and three men, and the board at large, as previously stated and made clear at the last meeting, is made up of an extremely diverse group of men and women.

  7. What? an executive harassed a staff? man… I wouldn’t want to work at CESAR. at least someone decided to ban the executive from the office for harassing staff, which was the right thing to do.

    I would love to know who is responsible for writing these bylaws and how they implemented it. I hope the new board makes it right.

  8. if u r so honest and so eager to bring out the truth whu dont u disclose why kim was tried to be impeached 4 times??BECAUSE SHE VIOLATED LAWS, SPREAD LIES ABOUT A MEMBER AND BLACKMAILED MEMBERS AND DISCLOSED CONFEIDENTial materials.
    its sad that u wont post this because u lack the guts.i am a woman, a feminist and it hurts me to see u use male dominated theory here…

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