By Nicole Schmidt
The restructuring of staff positions at the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has raised several questions over the past week, one being about the hiring of two new assistants.
On Dec. 1, the RSU eliminated the position of executive director of communications and outreach, laying off two employees due to financial constraints. Just one day before, former student engagement and business development coordinator of the Ryerson Commerce Society, Natasha Campagna, started as the new RSU general manager — a full-time position created earlier this year. The new assistants, one working under RSU vice-president education Cormac McGee and the other for vice-president student life and events Harman Singh, started last month.
McGee’s assistant primarily conducts research and works on an honorarium basis. Each semester, such assistants can receive up to $2,000 (like the RSU Board of Governors members). Singh’s part-time assistant does groundwork for event planning and their wage is taken out of the annual budget.
Angelyn Francis, who has worked with the RSU since 2013, said the position is completely unnecessary. “For as long as I’ve been there, none of these positions have had assistants before. They’ve been able to carry on just fine with their day, and carry on their duties as students,” she said.
McGee said that in the past, employees have had assistants — RSU president Andrea Bartlett added that the only difference is a change of job titles, and the fact that these assistants are more closely working with RSU executives than full-time staff. McGee said that the new position requires a lot of in-depth research that couldn’t be done by a regular student.
“It was a necessity,” he said. “This is a job where you’re literally combing through 50-page government reports … I don’t have time to do the research myself and I figured when [part-time] volunteers were doing it the results just weren’t there.”
Obaid Ullah, RSU vice-president operations, said that part of their campaign was to create more jobs for students, and that these new positions do that.
“It’s a remedy for students in need if students are struggling paying tuition,” he said. “We want to be able to put out more job opportunities on campus.”
The RSU executive committee approves the hiring and creation of positions for part-time staff.
With files from Farnia Fekri