RSU president Rajean Hoilett tries to listen to political opposition but his ears are met with silence.

Photo: Jess Tsang

Angry with the RSU? Run for it

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By Mohamed Omar

I’ve seen more opposition to the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) in the past week than I have since coming to this bottled-water-free oasis in 2010.

And, funnily enough, I saw it in a Facebook comment thread.

The RSU deleted a video that was posted on its Facebook page — which, as the administrator of that account, it has full right to – and posted a message to “remind folks that we have a zero tolerance policy for hate speech both online and in person.” Then all kinds of e-hell broke loose.

I have not seen the video, which the RSU described as “Islamaphobic and highly racist.” But it’s clear to see – based on the volcano of comments that erupted later – that it has to do with Palestine, Israel and the union’s work around both.

A second message said “folks that continue to [post] the video on this page will be blocked from posting on the page to ensure that we are working towards providing spaces free from oppression.” The user would be notified before the blocking happened, the message added.

Two massive threads, with almost 420 comments combined, saw the RSU getting called “bigots” and “discriminatory,” among other things. Some defended the union. The whole thing was sandwiched between an online debate on Israel and Palestine, but it was the criticism of the RSU that stuck out to me the most.

Seeing that much anti-RSU sentiment, even if it was just online, made me wonder: if there are students on campus that do care and have a problem with the way the union is working, then why – by Sheldon Levy’s silver beard — don’t we have an opposition party? Every election a few people will run against the reigning slate — whether it’s called Unite Ryerson, Students United or Party In The U.S.A. – but they fail to get any kind of traction. That’s because they go up against an organized, welloiled machine that uses the experience of past student governments.

Voter turnout has never been lower. The RSU’s last general election saw only 5 per cent of the campus voting. Of the five executive positions, only Rajean Hoilett, the president, had living, breathing human beings challenge him. The RSU did not make itself a one-party government. The lack of organized political opposition did that.

If those pissed-off commenters are genuinely ready for a different RSU government, they should start preparing to run.

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