The doors to the Ryerson Students’ Union are theoretically open to anyone who runs and wins a position. Getting to that point, however, is more complicated than it sounds. But that should not dissuade students who are interested in being a part of the student union, with a potential for making changes, to run. PHOTO: Natalia Balcerzak

Your student election needs you

In Editorial2 Comments

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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.


  1. “ads for international student tea drinking sessions”
    FYI, that poster you are taking about isn’t about drinking tea. It’s about showcasing international students’ culture.

  2. Claiming that “current governments” don’t listen to CFS is utter, utter bullshit.

    I’m pretty sick of journalists who have no idea what they’re talking about claiming that the CFS is ineffective or that they don’t get stuff done – tuition fees are a long term goal and despite that CFS has had some notable successes.

    But they’ve also won big victories that you might have missed – some recent ones in visas for international students.

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