By Alanna Rizza
Another school year is gone and it’s time to look back at the accomplishments and failures of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).
All five executives ran on the Impact slate and their main campaign platform points were lobbying for better transit services, increased mental health services and a higher number of hands-on learning experiences across multiple faculties.
The year started off with the RSU employees getting a pay raise. RSU part-time staff’s hourly wage was raised to $15 and the executives received an additional $5,000 to their salaries, which totalled about $36,000 each.
Impact also stressed the importance of improving transparency and communication with the membership. However, there was a severe lack of communication within the exec team and the board.
President Obaid Ullah
This was Ullah’s second year on the exec team (he was previously vice-president operations). He kept his campaign promise of increasing mental health services on campus with the creation of the Wellness Centre—even though the opening of the centre got pushed back three times. The centre will provide direction for students to access mental health services on and around campus.
Ullah said he thinks his biggest accomplishment this year was student engagement, which he says was evident in the increase of voters in the RSU elections. “I hope this only continues to grow,” he said.
But Ullah found himself in hot water after it was discovered he initiated a walk out, along with the executives, during the semi-annual general (SAGM) meeting in November during a motion for a Holocaust education week. Ullah wrote a Facebook status saying he was trying “to keep the room united and not cause heat,” but he shouldn’t have asked anyone to leave the meeting.
VP Operations Neal Muthreja
Muthreja entered his position with an $800,000 deficit. He continued following through with the Used Book Room moving online, which helped the RSU financially since the service was incurring losses.
However, Muthreja faced criticism when 6 Fest refund money exceeded the budgeted $50,000 and when he co-signed a transaction which saw refund money go into the personal bank accounts of RSU and non-RSU employees.
VP Student Life Harman Singh
There’s no doubt Singh has gone where no other vice-president student life has gone before by putting on a two-day concert with performances from French Montana and Diplo.
It was the aftermath of the long process of 6 Fest refunds that led to Singh receiving criticism (he almost got impeached). About $80,000 of 6 Fest refund money was transferred into his personal bank account along with the personal bank accounts of finance committee member Ali Yousaf and the private merchandise business account of non-RSU employee Ram Ganesh.
VP Education Victoria Morton
Morton started the year off by releasing a report that evaluated the effectiveness of the services provided by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), a national lobbying group to which the RSU pays an annual membership fee of about $500,000. She says her accomplishment has been “helping build and empower the national movement to reform the CFS.”
But Morton also faced criticism when she tweeted that the CFS’ Fight the Fees campaign wasn’t productive, for which she later apologized.
A motion was brought forward in the RSU’S SAGM asking her to resign in regards to the tweet and screenshots of Morton drinking in her office.
VP Equity Tamara Jones
Jones says her biggest accomplishment this year was being connected to administration and students in various communities and groups. “I look forward to passing on these contacts to the incoming exec team. I think that creating those relationships and building institutional memory is the best way to ensure that RSU continues to grow,” she said.
Jones was criticized for a lack of support for the Reproductive Justice Collective, which formed in response to pro-life demonstrators who have been on Gould Street since the beginning of the school year. But Jones said she was a part of the counter-protesting and she later helped look into Ryerson gaining stewardships rights over Gould Street.