By Jackie Hong
Ryerson’s Residence Council started off the year as a one-man operation run by president Grant Mason. One semester later, it is back on track with eight executive members and 12 floor presidents.
“I’m very optimistic about this semester,” Mason, a third-year social work student, said. He spent the majority of first semester dealing with paperwork, sending out emails, and recruiting new members.
The RRC is responsible for planning events for students living in residence and ensuring that they’re represented within the university.
“It’s been a really positive experience,” said Charlotte Veri, a first-year in undeclared arts and this year’s vice president of internal affairs. Veri joined Rez Council in October. “It would have been nice if we could have done more events first semester, but now, everything’s starting to come together.”
Except for Mason and another second-year student, this year’s Rez Council is made up of first-year students.
Although it is technically against the organization’s bylaws to put a first-year in certain positions on the RRC, the manager of Student Housing Services (SHS), Chad Nuttall, said he and Mason have plans to rework the constitution over the course of the semester.
Mason is the only returning member from the previous council. It’s common for council members to return for second or third terms, but personal factors and a conflict with SHS during the 2011-12 school year saw most of last year’s team depart.
Kyle Butella, former vice president of finance and administration, said the frustration he felt from the RRC’s conflict with SHS as the main reason he left.
Last year, Butella said, SHS tried to take over events usually run by RRC and impose contracts on council members. When the RRC resisted, Butella said SHS withheld honorariums that members were supposed to receive at the end of the school year.
Nuttall said the conflict stemmed from a total shutdown of communication from the then president of the RRC, and added that no honorariums were denied.
“Everyone that was employed last year was paid,” Nuttall said. “They were all paid bi-weekly, just like any other staff member on campus.”
“There was a lot of bureaucracy dealing with housing, and it made it really, really difficult to get a team going for next year,” Butella said. “I didn’t feel that there was enough strength in the council to be worth my time.”
The conflict wasn’t the only reason execs didn’t return. Hilary Taylor, currently in third-year retail management and former vice president of internal relations, wanted to spend more time focusing on her academics.
“School gets crazy in third year retail, and I wanted to get an internship; that took more time and kind of focus more on school,” said Taylor.
“And I am also part of the Retail Students Association, and I wanted to focus more on that since I’ve done Rez Council for two years.”
This year, Mason said that relations with Student Housing are much better.
“It’s important that we have a more mutual agreeable relationship with Housing, and that’s one thing I’ve been really trying to build this year,” he said, adding that he often sends emails back and forth with Nuttall.
Now that it has an assembled team, the RRC’s main goal for this semester is to hold more events for students and increase its profile at Ryerson.
“Hopefully this semester, all the events, all the advocacy, all the committees we’ve been running will all be very successful,” Mason said.
“I’m sure there will be setbacks, I’m sure that there will be other speed bumps that will get in the way, but as it stands now, I feel that the foundation is set strong enough that we can absorb some shock.