By Deni Verklan
With less than two months left in the academic year, Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) President Rajean Hoilett said the union is still working on delivering on promises it was elected in on.
Some of these promises included freezing tuition fees, lowering transit costs for students and improving study space availability.
Hoilett said he is not discouraged by not having achieved these goals yet.
“These things take time. We took 10 years to close Gould Street and we will continue these fights,” Hoilett said.
Halting the increase of tuition fees was a top campaign platform for the RSU and saw its members camp out in front of Jorgenson Hall for a week in November 2014 in freezing temperatures. It also hired two independent economists to draft an alternative budget to present to Ryerson’s Board of Governors (BoG).
The encampment, dubbed “Tent City,” ended shortly after the Nov. 24, 2014, BoG meeting, where Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy told the RSU that freezing tuition fees was unlikely from a financial standpoint.
“The campaign work this year, I think, has been pretty unprecedented with campaigns like Freeze the Fees and really moving those conversations forward for access to education,” said Hoilett.
Hoilett said the RSU will continue working to lower tuitions fees by lobbying the provincial and federal governments with the Canadian Federation of Students, to which the RSU pays about $350,000 a year. Hoilett is the incoming chairperson for the Ontario branch of the federation.
It is unclear whether the incoming Transform RU slate will continue the RSU’s affiliation with the CFS. Members of Transform have also expressed their disapproval of the RSU’s Freeze the Fees campaign.
Another Unite Ryerson campaign pledge, discounting GTA transit costs for Ryerson students is still underway, Hoilett said.
“During my term as vice-president of equity [2013-2014], we were able to collect some surveys from students across the GTA on how they were using transit. We were able to compile that information and make some recommendations during the municipal elections this year,” Hoilett said.
TTC student passes cost $112.
Hoilett said that he’s excited to see how the incoming Transform slate will continue with this issue, especially with the attention on transit and the outcome of the municipal elections.
The RSU had also campaigned for repurposed study space and more graduate student study space, which is also ongoing.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work around graduate student study space, in [working on] a survey that collects information about what graduate students need out of a space. We’ve been communicating that with the university the entire way through,” Hoilett said.
Another platform point was adding a “wait list” feature to RAMSS’ course intentions. Hoilett said that the RSU had talked to Ryerson administration about improvements in RAMSS and Blackboard, with wait listing being one of them.
The RSU had talked of implementing a free lunch program for students in its campaign, which Hoilett said the RSU “demoed” this year at the Good Food Centre and they’re working on expanding the programs to reach more students.
“I think all-in-all from Week of Welcome up until today I’m pretty happy with the general work we’ve been able to do,” he said.
With files from Keith Capstick and Jake Scott