By Lee Richardson
It’s that time of year again.
No, I don’t mean winter, but a very important time on campus. It’s election time at the Ryerson Students’ Union. You may have seen posters cropping up saying that the RSU election nomination period has opened. The text-heavy posters also list available RSU Board of Directors positions for the next year.
You might have to strain to see them though – a walkaround by an Eyeopener editor found some nomination posters covered by ads for international student tea drinking sessions, APA citation training workshops and recruitment drives for the Oakham House Choir. Important stuff.
To some students, the idea of running for a position on the RSU could be tempting. On the other hand, it could be as nice a prospect as sitting and listening to the technicalities of the APA citation system.
Although it would be easy to criticize the posters – in terms of their placement there could be more in high-traffic areas, for example – to do so would be nitpicking. They are there to be seen by those who manage to look up from their phones for a minute. Frankly, I appreciate the posters. The RSU election needs all the attention it can get.
Why? To answer that we need to explain the RSU. For the past few years the student union has consisted of members of a slate currently called Students United. Since 2007, this group has won the election with little or no competition.
Often, elected students from previous years simply shift into new positions after running unopposed.
This one-candidate situation happened last year.
The reason we need new blood – new faces and ideas in the RSU – stands because of the beliefs Students United hold.
Their policies can range from things which actually have an effect of students, such as getting rid of vending machines that sell bottled water packaged in plastic, to beliefs that have nothing to do with Ryerson, or being a student, at all – stances on the Gaza conflict and a recent decision calling for the disbanding of the Canadian military being two examples.
As well as their beliefs, there is the issue of their funding. Each graduate and undergraduate full-time student pays into the union. (For disclosure, The Eyeopener is partly funded by RSU fees.) In a perfect world, they should get something back for that money.
Their money goes towards events, with the Parade and Picnic taking a bite from the budget. However, there is a sum left over that could be put to use better than occasionally giving away free coffee and waffles.
Students need services catering to them. Putting a student union’s resources into sending executives to Ottawa to lobby against student fees might make for a nice day out, but ultimately such moves are following in the steps of the Canadian Federation of Students, which the current governments don’t listen to anyway.
So to those students who wonder where their money is being spent by the RSU, and to those who have an interest in running, even a curiosity, I say take the chance and apply to be a candidate. Real changes to the RSU will only be made by those who take that chance.