By Al Downham
Mental health, last semester’s Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) layoffs and tuition fees were common topics at the March 3 winter election debate.
Executive candidates from the Impact and RU Connected slates discussed their campaign platforms and answered questions from attendees. The Rhino Party announced on Facebook that they were boycotting the debate and none of the candidates attended.
Here’s what you missed:
On Mental Health
Many candidates advocated to reduce stigma surrounding mental health on campus and alleviate wait-times for Ryerson’s counselling services.
Tamara Jones, an Impact candidate running for the RSU’s vice-president equity, proposed hiring another general counsellor, in addition to one with expertise on LGBT issues and sexual violence. She also wants to create a complaint panel for students to discuss how teachers have disregarded their mental health issues.
Sussane Nyaga, running for vice-president equity with RU Connected, said professors and students should be held accountable and taught about mental health politics.
“Profs aren’t the only ones with these stigmas,” Nyaga said. “Students also hold these stigmas.”
On RSU layoffs
Presidential candidates Awo Abokor, of RU Connected, and Obaid Ullah, the RSU’s current vice-president finance and Impact slate member, were questioned about whether they would reinstate Gilary Massa, who was laid off last semester by the RSU during the union’s restructuring.
“There is no justice in the dismissal of a woman on maternity leave,” Abokor said.
Ullah, who was in his executive role during the layoff, said proactive communication with the students would of been better, but said he stands by the RSU’s decision.
Ullah clarified that Massa was laid off, not fired.
Both vice-president education candidates, Victoria Morton of Impact and Martin Fox of RU Connected, agreed rising tuition is problematic. They said that despite the recent Ontario budget update, students must push forward against high tuition fees. If elected, the candidates said they’d work with the provincial government and university to tackle tuition fees along with unpaid internships.
“It’s not the end of the journey,” Morton said.
On the Drake concert
Vice-president student life and events candidate, Rumana Fardaush of RU Connected, criticized the RSU’s alleged disregard of accessibility and safety during last September’s Week of Welcome frosh concert. Approximately 8,500 attended the event featuring Drake, Future and Zedd’s Dead.
“Ryerson thought there was going to be shootings. There were going to be stabbings,” current vice-president student life and events and Impact candidate Harman Singh said. He added that the event was overall a success despite fights in the crowd.
Both advocated for more collaboration between student groups, societies and unions across campus.
Voting will take place from March 7-9.
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, which was published online on March 3, we incorrectly stated that the Rhino Party was boycotting the election. The Rhino Party was actually boycotting the debate. The Eyeopener regrets this error.