By Nicole Schmidt
The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) released a statement on Thursday in response to last semester’s restructuring at the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) that resulted in two layoffs.
The UTSU executive committee wrote that their willingness to engage with the RSU has been “severely undermined.”
“I understand that it’s a very complex issue and people are interpreting it as they want to interpret it,” said RSU president Andrea Bartlett.
When the RSU eliminated the position of executive director of communications on Dec. 1 due to financial constraints, Gilary Massa, who was on parental leave, and Dina Skivrsky, her replacement, were laid off. One day earlier, Natasha Campagna, former student engagement and business development coordinator of the Ryerson Commerce Society, started as the new RSU general manager — a full-time position created last semester.
Both employees fired were women — one of them being Muslim and a new parent. “In a labour market demarcated by race and gender, the firing of these two women affects their further marginalization, especially in the absence of equitable and open hiring practices,” UTSU said in the statement.
The UTSU also said the RSU chose to hire Campagna because she was “a political ally and close friend.”
“It is important for students’ unions to demonstrate a commitment to open and equitable hiring as part of our commitment to fighting oppression and promoting equity,” reads the statement.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees also released a statement last month, along with several other student groups on campus.
Restructuring is planned to happen in several parts. Bartlett said the RSU is looking for ways to update the organization to better reflect changes in the economy and in the needs of students.
UTSU said that the two unions could resume working together if the RSU demonstrates a commitment to the principles of equity and good allyship.
“I’m confident that through actual explanation of some of the details that we’ll be able to work together as we have in the past,” said Bartlett.