By Sean Wetselaar
Let’s talk for a moment about legacy.
When I started working at The Eyeopener we often talked about student politics on campus — we may have been the only ones. Conversations about elections that year were not centred around who would win — that was a foregone conclusion. The long-standing, tight-knit group of politically motivated students on campus who had been in power for years were running effectively unopposed.
So disappointed were we by the lack of interest from our campus, that we decided to run our fun editor, Suraj Singh, for president. It wasn’t because he could win, it was to make a point about how little the election process mattered.
This year, the elections won’t have been called by the time that this paper comes out (voting ends Wednesday at 4 p.m.), but I can honestly say that I am thrilled to be able to tell you this:
I don’t know who is going to win.
This is the second year that this has perhaps been a true statement the day election results will be announced. And a big part of that is thanks to a group of people who last year were called Transform RU.
I won’t bore you with the details of exactly how we came to have two bodies of political thought on campus, rather than one. It had a lot to do with harnessing student leaders from the student societies, not just from various levels of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).
But this new group, pledging a new era of transparency and accountability in the RSU, surged through the elections in 2015 to displace the Unite slate in a win that was, even to those of us following the process closely, simply stunning.
Now I’m not going to get into whether or not everything that group has done has been perfect. I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for with the few hours you have left to do so. But there is one undeniable truth to this whole thing — the competition that Transform (now running as Impact) brought to campus has been a big deal. One that it’s hard for me to accurately illustrate in this short editorial.
Over the years I’ve been at this paper, I’ve heard all the stereotypes about Ryerson. It’s a commuter campus, students come in for class and they go home. Nobody really cares what happens outside of those hours. It may be young, vibrant and diverse, but it is utterly apathetic.
If you go here, you’ve probably heard all these arguments. But here’s the thing — you can tell anyone who tries to make that argument that clearly they haven’t been paying attention. Because it’s bullshit.
Ryerson may not have as long a history of political involvement on campus as U of T or other, older schools. But if nothing else in the last couple of years we’ve proven that a large part of campus cares, very deeply. As as a cynical old fogey who has probably paid attention to this whole thing for far too long, I can say that this warms my heart.
So why am I telling you all this? Why does it matter to you whether Ryerson has been far more apathetic in the past, or how the two slates running in this year’s election came to be?
Because we should all see the days of old as a cautionary tale. There won’t always be people on campus who remember those days, and it’s up to all of you to make sure we don’t have to.
So get involved. Join a club, chat up your student society or course union and pay attention to the student leaders who are responsible for handling serious budgets made up largely of student money. These people represent and work for you.
Maybe you want to be one of them. Maybe you don’t. But never, ever forget that whether or not you’ll be at Ryerson forever, these people matter. And so does the weird, fun, messed-up community we’ve built for ourselves here.
So keep on giving a damn, Ryerson. And thanks to all of you who have gotten us here.