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RSU and CESAR at odds after O-Week

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By Behdad Mahichi

In spite of hosting what was probably the most high-profile parade and concert in Ryerson history, irregularities in the planning had certain groups of students feeling left out.

The frosh concert that made city-wide headlines following Drake’s surprise visit was free to full-time Ryerson students who registered online and picked up their wristbands. The event was also made free to full-time George Brown students, after a $95,000 partnership between the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and George Brown College was confirmed.

But part-time degree and continuing education students at Ryerson were categorized under “Guest Ticket” and were told to pay $10 for entry.

About 3,500 tickets were confirmed in the first 30 minutes of ticket sales. Another round of sales was later made available, but not for guest tickets.

Rabbia Ashraf, vice president internal of the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) said that the RSU’s Week of Welcome this year was anything but welcoming for part-time and continuing education students.

“I was a little bit shocked at that, because part-time students are still Ryerson students,” she said. “We’re categorized under guest, but we’re part of the university.”

Ashraf, who has been an executive for two years, said that the RSU and CESAR were closer in collaboration for the concert in prior years. This year though, she said there was little communication between the two student unions, noting they inquired about the Week of Welcome schedule on “several occasions” without receiving a response.

“It is clear that the new executives of the RSU — executives that are supposed to be student leaders on this campus — are not concerned with building a community at Ryerson. They have made part-time degree and continuing education students feel obsolete and insignificant.”

However, RSU President Andrea Bartlett said that CESAR didn’t approach them about the concert, and the decision to have them pay had to do with their lack of financial contribution to the event.

“Essentially, CESAR members don’t pay into our levy,” she said. “It’s similar if I was a business student trying go to a conference that the engineering society funds.”

Ashraf believes the two student unions will be working together less this coming year.

At the beginning of every school year the RSU and CESAR sit down for a visioning meeting to talk about collaboration throughout the year. In previous years, they would meet monthly to plan equity service centre events, though Ashraf said that this no longer takes place.

CESAR members were not the only ones with parade and concert woes. Many engineering students felt frustrated after last minute setup complications had their float removed from the parade.

A float painted purple with a throne dedicated to president Harrsan Parameswaran of the Ryerson Engineering Student Society was to be carried through the parade by a U-Haul truck — but the lack of resources forced the engineers to hand over the truck to the RSU in order to install a generator for the concert stage.

Parameswaran said the U-Haul truck was purchased with their own money. However no reimbursement has been made.

“All the engineers, you know, they wish they were on the float. But last second it was moved away,” he said. “We were just a little rattled at the time.”

An engineering student who wished to stay anonymous said that students put in six to seven hours of work for the float.

“I think that [engineers] are a little bit annoyed with them right now because there hasn’t been a public apology yet. We’ve heard that there’s been one-on-one apologies, but they haven’t made a public collective thing yet,” said the anonymous source.

Bartlett said that the parade mix-up came from a lack of communication.

Even when Bartlett pushed to delay the parade for those still getting ready, Toronto Police had already ordered the floats to move.

“The police changed the route last minute and they started it without anyone being ready,” said Bartlett.

“There’s definitely a lot of things we learned coming out of this. There weren’t enough people helping out the event and that’s probably the number one issue.”

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