By Nicole Schmidt
As part of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) restructuring plan, a new, full-time general manager position was created last semester to help new executives transition into their roles and oversee financial operations.
Natasha Campagna, former student engagement and business development coordinator of the Ryerson Commerce Society, was hired for the role and started on Nov. 30. One day later, the RSU eliminated the position of executive director of communications and outreach, laying off two employees due to financial constraints. Several people have since expressed disapproval and voiced concerns. The Eyeopener spoke with Campagna about the new position and how she’s been handling the negative attention.
How are things going with the position thus far?
I think that the position is going great so far. I’ve been learning a lot. Everyone in the building has been able to teach me something new, or something about the RSU that I didn’t know about before. The staff and students in the building have really helped me through the transitioning process and are helping me become more familiar with the position.
Have there been any surprises, or things you didn’t expect?
I had a good idea about what it [the position] was coming into the role, especially because I’ve been involved with the Ryerson community and I’m a Ryerson alumni. There haven’t been any surprises.
A lot of student groups and outside organizations have released statements about the RSU restructuring. Were you expecting to receive any backlash before you started the job?
The restructuring happened on the second day that I was officially in the position, so I had no idea about it. I found out the day that it happened when everyone else did.
How have you been dealing with the negative attention?
I’m a very calm person, I don’t think reacting is the best way to go. It’s very important to keep a level head and make sure you’re not letting the negativity get to you. It’s important to keep moving forward and know that there’s work to be done. I want to quiet out the noise and really focus on the betterment of the organization.
Is that going to be your mentality going forward?
Everyone has questions. It’s important to state the facts and show students that what happened isn’t something that’s illegal like people are saying. I’m focusing on what the RSU is doing well at, instead of the negative.
In the statement the University of Toronto Students’ Union released, they accused the RSU of hiring you because you’re a “close friend and political ally.” What are your thoughts on that?
I did know Andrea like I know a lot of people on Ryerson campus, but by no means were we close friends like everybody thought going into the position. I think I was the only person who applied for the position from Ryerson, and I think it’s important that the person who got chosen for this role understands the Ryerson community.
Do you have any further comment on the restructuring?
I have no comments right now.
Going forward into the semester, what are your plans for the role?
To ensure that the RSU is continued to be put back in the hands of the students. I want to support the executives and the board as well as the initiatives they have planned, and continue to learn more about the RSU and ways to improve the organization. The past month or so has been about learning and absorbing. Further, I think I’ll be able to see where the hiccups are and improve on them.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.