By Mohamed Omar
It is the year 2014. Humans can order food delivered to their door — suck on that, ancestors — from the palm of their hand. Medical advancements are stunning. George W. Bush can paint.
Damn it, by Matt Damon’s chin, we are at the forefront of human progress and almost everything is more amazing than it’s ever been. But if you thought this day and age’s marvelous achievements trickled down to Ryerson’s student government, you’d be wrong.
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) held its fall general meeting Tuesday, the first of two massive union congregations (the other is in the winter).
At these meetings, motions submitted by any member of the RSU — full-time undergraduate students, as well as part-time and full-time graduate students — can be put to a vote.
These motions can directly affect RSU policy and, as a result, influence the campus life of close to 30,000 students. Pretty flippin’ rad, huh? It is rad, but as the great Johnny Bravo taught me, you can be both rad and stupid.
The meeting’s voting system is as functional as my intestines — and I put Tabasco sauce on everything.
The meetings are held in Tecumseh Auditorium, room 115 in the Student Campus Centre (SCC).
This dull-looking room can fit — at most — 170 people, according to the SCC’s conference services. It makes some sense for the union to use that room — it’s in the building they call home. But since the RSU’s policy states that union members must attend the meeting to vote on motions, this gives birth to a bastard of a problem.
This means that — brace yourself — out of 30,000 students, only 170 can vote on issues that affect the entire campus.
Yeah, yeah, I know, when it comes to student government Ryerson students can be more politically apathetic than a baked potato. But even if only 170 students actually show up to these meetings, the onus is on the union to provide as accessible of a voting system as possible, regardless of expected turnout.
Tuesday’s meeting had some incredibly important motions. Two of them specifically called for making membership of the union voluntary.
Such a serious motion deserves a system that can include more than 170 votes, whether that means the RSU rents out the Kerr Hall Gym or begins using online voting.
The RSU doesn’t use this method on other votes. Union elections, held in the winter semester, are more traditional — voting booths are set up around campus — and board meetings have representatives for each faculty.
It’s preposterous for a meeting that can hold votes on proposals as serious as dissolving the union itself to exist in a forum limited by physical space. It’s a slap in the face to any open, inclusive voting method.
The meeting’s voting system is a colossal elephant in the room we need to talk about – assuming there’s space for it.