By Brennan Doherty
UPDATE: RCS staffperson Natasha Campagna said she did not give anyone permission to tear down posters.
The election’s first violation occurred minutes after it began.
Transform Ryerson candidate Nav Marwah noticed posters had been ripped off of the community boards at the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) around midnight on Jan 27. Unite Ryerson posters replaced them. TRSM policy requires all posters to be approved- and if need be, removed – by the Ryerson Commerce Society (RCS). “The only people who are allowed to tear down posters are those who are executives on the RCS,” said Marwah.
After a week of campaigning, both the Transform and Unite Ryerson slates have violated faculty or campaign rules in attempts to sway undecided student voters.
Marwah took pictures of the ripped posters, eventually confronting a number of Unite Ryerson candidates hanging up their materials on TRSM’s third floor.
“When I walked by them … one of the people that [is] running for [TRSM] director actually came up to me and said ‘Oh, how do they look?’ And then I just stared down at the poster that was ripped,” Marwah said.
The candidate said that RCS staffperson Natasha Campagna gave her permission to rip off expired posters. But Natasha Compagna denies this. “To be clear, I did not give permission to anyone to tear down posters, despite what others have said,” said Compagna in an email this morning.
Unite Ryerson presidential candidate Pascale Diverlus maintains that this is standard procedure.
“Posters that were taken down were posters of past events and past dates, just like it’s done in every other building,” she said.
She stands by the Unite Ryerson candidates, saying “If that’s what they said they did, I believe it was what they did.”
All of Unite Ryerson’s posters were stripped from TRSM on Jan. 28.
Osman Hamid, manager of student engagement and business development for TRSM, said they’d been removed by RCS executives for not having RCS approval stamps, being posted across walls (which is illegal in TRSM without prior approval), and for having barely visible chief returning officer (CRO) approval stamps. Noah Parker, one of Marwah’s running mates on the Transform slate, had filed two complaints to CRO Fatima Sajan on Jan. 28 regarding these violations.
“Every single student in Ted Rogers knows that if you want to do something [to] put on the walls, you need to get it stamped,” Parker said.
In an email to all candidates on Jan. 29, the CRO disputed the validity of these rules.
“TRSM has always allowed posters and banners to be placed in the building for the RSU election period once the TRSM posting regulations have been followed. No approval from the RCS … is required,” she wrote.
But Unite Ryerson posters have yet to return to TRSM as of 5 p.m. Feb. 3 afternoon. Osman Hamid admitted that any student could have removed the posters.
“That’s also possible, but that’s not how it works,” he said.
Any one of the RCS’s 60 executives or board members are authorized to remove posters – and RCS has openly endorsed the Transform Ryerson campaign. A number of Transform Ryerson candidates – including Noah Parker and Nav Marwah – are also running for positions in the RCS and RSU elections simultaneously. Andrea Bartlett was once its executive vice-president.
When asked if Unite Ryerson will continue postering in TRSM, Pascale Diverlus replied “No comment.”
Election bylawss themselves have been ignored by the election’s CRO, days into the campaign season. The addition of an extra TRSM director position on Jan. 29 directly contradicts a section in article six of the RSU Bylaws that states “The CRO shall determine the number of student faculty directors and their distribution at least 30 days prior to the date of the election.”
In the same email, the CRO also changed the rules about campaign materials. Typically, the CRO signs off on every single poster, banner, Facebook post or website bio from all candidates to ensure fairness. As of Thursday “…any statuses or post, responses on all social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc) that do not exceed 250 characters DO NOT need to be approved by the RSU CRO.”
Diverlus said that the CRO has a lot on her plate at the moment.
“We do understand [that] the CRO has to look through a lot of different material and so there’s going to be backlog and stuff like that, but we’re understanding of that,” Diverlus said.
Transform Ryerson, however, has complained about long wait times for email responses from the CRO – especially for poster approval. Their campaign documents it all as a result.
“The integrity of the CRO has been called into question a couple of times on various matters and it’s getting really irritating,” said Alexander Waddling, a Transform Ryerson candidate for arts director.
“I have no issue with people who disagree with me. You start to undermine the democratic process and we’re going to have a damn problem.”