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UPDATED: RSU Board of Directors member resigns amidst restructuring

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By Nicole Schmidt 

Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) Board of Directors member Angelyn Francis has resigned because she believes the RSU failed to maintain transparency and accountability.

“Sitting on the board and supporting the things that the RSU has been doing this semester didn’t seem productive,” said Francis. “I’ve been trying to hold them accountable, but I’m still just one person at this point … and I don’t agree with what they’re doing.”

Francis was voted into the RSU as the Student Group Director. She announced her decision to resign in a Facebook statement on Tuesday night, writing that, “The things that I have witnessed this year while sitting on the board has me extremely concerned for the state of our students’ union.” In an interview with The Eyeopener, Francis added that she had felt blindsided as a board member.

On Feb. 2, the RSU released a statement responding to criticism they’ve received as a result of restructuring plans. Several campus groups and external organizations including the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ryerson’s Anti-Racism Coalition, and the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) responded to the RSU’s decision to eliminate the executive director of communications and outreach (EDCO) position on Dec. 1 — resulting in two employees being laid off due to financial constraints.

“We eliminated the role because it was redundant to the positions that report to it,” RSU president Andrea Bartlett wrote in an emailed statement. “We hired a GM because the organization needed consistent management presence.”

A new full-time general manager (GM) position was also created as part of the restructuring process. Natasha Campagna, former student engagement and business development coordinator of the Ryerson Commerce Society, was hired for the position and started on Nov. 30.  

The RSU said in the Feb. 2 statement that when they took office in May, they were “dismayed to find the organization facing serious operational challenges.” These challenges included inadequate human resources policies, training and oversight. According to the statement, an assessment done by an independent third party found that eliminating the EDCO role in favour of a non-unionized GM position would be more sustainable.

Francis told The Eyeopener that during a board meeting on Nov. 17, Bartlett gave members an overview of the recommendations and structural changes set to take place, but did not clarify how they would be implemented. In Francis’s statement, she said the board was told the GM position would not affect existing jobs.

In the statement released by the U of T students’ union  on Jan. 14, UTSU said the RSU chose to hire Campagna because she was “a political ally and close friend.” Francis said it wasn’t fair that Bartlett chose to hire someone she knew without giving Gillary the opportunity to apply for the position.

You have to think about the relationships between the people, you have to think about the timelines,” said Francis.”They weren’t being fair employers and that’s not something I can accept.”

However, Bartlett wrote that Francis’ statement on her relationship with Campagna is misleading.

“We didn’t hire Natasha because we’re friends, we hired her because she was the most qualified and to say that Natasha and I were ‘friends’ is stretching the truth,” Bartlett wrote.  “As a student leader, I of course worked with her in the TRSM [Ted Rogers School of Management] faculty; she was an essential member of the management team there, as she is now an essential member of the management team at the RSU.”

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