By Fakiha Baig
Axing miscellaneous fees is one of the ways the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) fulfilled their campaign promise to keep more money in the hands of students during their 2013-14 term.
The RSU also managed to slash the $40 completion fee once required before a student could apply for graduation, along with deferral fees.
“We were able to get rid of deferral fees, so students are no longer going to be charged a deferral fee for deferring their student payments,” RSU president Melissa Palermo said.
However, the RSU struggled this school year to execute their most ambitious goal: dropping student tuition fees. The current RSU ran as the Students United slate and included Roshelle Lawrence, Rajean Hoilett, Ifaz Iqbal, Danielle Brogan and Palermo.
“The reality of lobbying [for tuition] is that you have to go along with the process of the university. And so that work has been initiated and takes a bit of a longer amount of time,” Palermo said.
The current administration, however, was not without its controversies. In November, the RSU posted a deficit of $73,000, citing an abundence of student services and campaigns.
The RSU also had to repay an accidental overcharge in membership fees. Each student account required a $10.35 credit in early December.
Student engagement was another platform priority for the RSU, which pledged to increase student participation through an increase in social media engagement.
Some on campus, like first-year radio and television arts student Zahra Khozema, feel that the executives haven’t done enough to reach out to students.
“I feel like I haven’t been engaged as much by the Ryerson Student Union when it comes to their campaigns,” Khozema said. “There is a lot happening, but the promotion of it all seems hardly effective.”
The RSU executives disagreed and stated that their presence on social media has made reaching out to students a lot easier.
“We’ve successfully been able to exponentially increase our Twitter followers and Instagram followers and Facebook engagement, as well as engagement with our weekly newsletters,” Palermo said.
Among their other accomplishments, Students United successfully provided more gender-neutral washrooms on campus, secured a larger selection of more affordable and accessible food on campus and followed through on a commitment to keep Ryerson disposable water bottle-free.
The RSU was also successful in permanently abolishing spending limits for student groups, with a motion proposed and upheld at the Nov. 13 general meeting.
Some other motions passed at the general meeting included an official stance against unpaid internships and securing more of the money allocated from the student levy for campus groups.
These groups included The Sexual Assault Survivior Support Line, Equity Service Centres and the Graduate Travel Grant.
With four months left in her term as president, Palermo wants to bring in a series of equity speakers for the student body, continue with the ongoing campaign for women-only gym hours, organize an organic food fair and increase engagement of students in rallies before athletic events.
Candidates will debate new platforms on Feb. 6. The general election is scheduled to take place Feb. 11-13.