By Keith Capstick
For the first time since 2011 the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) election will feature an opposition slate.
Transform Ryerson, which will be going up against the RSU’s incumbent slate, Unite Ryerson, is composed of various student leaders from various student societies on campus, such as the Ryerson Commerce Society (RCS), Ryerson Communication and Design Society (RCDS) and Ryerson Engineering Student Society (RESS).
“I think it’s pretty clear that the students want change, they want something different. Looking into the history of elections I think only one person in the last decade has been successfully elected as president who was the opposition of the CFS-backed slate,” said Andrea Bartlett, the presidential candidate for Transform’s slate.
The Eyeopener asked Alexander Waddling, a fifth-year psychology student running for a director position in the faculty of arts under the Transform slate, whether or not Transform will look to divest itself from the CFS (Canadian Federation of Students) if their slate is elected, and he responded “yup,” and expects backlash from the opposing slate.
“It’s interesting, because the stuff that they’re going to throw at us is: ‘Oh, they’re not working in the best interest of students’ yaddah yaddah. Really? As an arts student, I can’t think of the last thing that the RSU’s done for me. And I know a lot of people who are in the same boat. [They’re] very introverted and introspective, they focus on themselves,” said Waddling.
This, despite one of Bartlett’s platform promises “to create a more mutually beneficial relationship between the CFS and the RSU,” listed on the slate’s website.
According to their website, which went online Jan. 30, Transform’s four main goals are to increase funding and scholarship opportunities, centralize all services through an online student portal, lobby the school to waive the fees students pay for various documents and emphasize transparent student government.
Pascale Diverlus, the current vice-president equity and presidential candidate for Unite Ryerson, welcomes the opportunity to compete against an opposing slate because it encourages healthy debate.
“We’ve had opposing slates in the past and we are okay with it,” said Diverlus.
Transform’s campaign material is now posted around campus, despite difficulties getting their posters and banners approved by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO). Bartlett is frustrated with the CRO because of discrepancies between the original voting dates her slate received and the ones that were initially posted around campus.
“If you’re going to tell us one thing and then change it a week later, it doesn’t make it easy to campaign,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett said that her team has the experience to “improve communication between, the students, the RSU and the school.”
“We think that as student leaders we’ve had pretty strong communication over the last four years and through our involvement with students we’ve gained an understanding of where the opportunities lie for us to improve things within the RSU,” she said.
Cormac McGee, a fourth-year journalism student running for vice-president education, says he was motivated by increased interest in student politics around campus.
“The RSU doesn’t seem to be all it can be for students. I’ve felt that way for a couple years now, but this year you’ve seen it at the basic student level. So students that aren’t really involved in groups are getting pretty passionate about issues on campus. So we felt like this was the year to set up an opposition,” said McGee.