By Natasha Gan
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, April 4, but were unable to meet the 100 person quorum required for a formal meeting to take place.
Nevertheless, RSU executives led an informal discussion on a number of concerns with approximately 80 students in attendance. At the top of the agenda was tuition fees reduction.
Despite support from Ryerson’s administrative staff, tuition fee reductions have not been applied as promised by the government. The Ontario government has pledged $430 million to fund a grant to reduce tuition by 30 per cent – but fees are still expected to increase by 5 per cent for the 2012-2013 school year.
Almost everyone in the room raised their hands when the panel asked who would be graduating with debt. Currently, Ryerson only has 9,500 signatures in favor of tuition fee reduction.
“It’s important that the RSU remain autonomous and strong,” said RSU president Caitlin Smith.
Without any concrete solution to prevent tuition hikes, the RSU claims it remains determined to strive for a barrier-free access to post-secondary education. They added that monthly meetings with Ryerson president Sheldon Levy are going positively, as he also agrees that tuition fees are too high.
“I’m very excited to see the students getting more pissed off,” RSU president-elect Rodney Diverlus said. “Hopefully we can channel all that anger collectively to action.”
The RSU also took time to address a number of victories achieved in the last semester, including the successful launch of the Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line. The line is open for anyone to use anonymously.
Another success they touched upon was the permanent closure of Gould Street after seven years of campaigning. Smith believes the battle is not over until the entire stretch of Gould Street to Church Street and the little parts of Victoria Street are closed too. She claims that this is vital to building a sense of community, considering how easy it is to mix up general Torontonians walking downtown and Ryerson students.
Diverlus moved the discussion forward by speaking about an ongoing RSU campaign for more stress-releasing and accommodating student space. The Multi-Faith Space Campaign seeks to address the overcrowded prayer space in Oakham House. Diverlus says the small room could barely accommodate students’ needs when it was first built.
“Next year is another year to do more,” said Diverlus. “By working together, we’ll be able to continue to fight for more affordable, accessible, equitable and fun campus community.”