Photo: Jake Scott

RSU executives and board members say they weren’t notified of Colonialism 150 campaign

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By The News Team

Three executive members of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) as well as a number of board members have made a post on the RSU Facebook page stating that they were not made aware of the details of the Colonialism 150 campaign before it was posted on June 26.

The statement was signed by RSU vice-president education Daniel Lis, vice-president operations Ali Yousaf and vice-president student life & events Lauren Emberson, who all ran with the Spark slate in the last election, as well as 20 board members who ran with Spark and Ohana. RSU president Susanne Nyaga and vice-president equity Camryn Harlick, who did not sign this statement, ran with the Elevate slate.

The statement says that the campaign was not approved at committee or board level, and “was launched before having approval of the executive.”

“If it’s such a huge political stance then it should be approved by the board. That is why I changed my vote, I said if we are making this campaign at such a huge level, we should inform the board about it and get their approval. We should not make such a huge political stance,” said Yousaf.

At an RSU executive committee meeting on June 30, Nyaga said that she, along with Harlick, Yousaf and Emberson, voted in favour of the Colonialism 150 campaign on June 27, a day after the first post went up—though Yousaf later wanted to rethink his vote—and that according to bylaws, all equity campaigns don’t have to be approved by the board, since they fall under the vice-president equity’s job description.

According to Nyaga, Harlick’s reasoning for putting forward a motion regarding the campaign was to maintain communication and demonstrate support among the board, despite the fact that they did not need approval.

“[The campaign] was [created] to show visible accountability and solidarity for Indigenous students,” said Nyaga. She also adds that asking for campaign approval would delegitimize the roles of RSU executives, who were elected to make decisions such as this one.

“If we’re asking them to get approval from the board then what would that look like if it were applied to all of our positions? And how would that impact the effectiveness of the RSU?” she said.

Both Yousaf and Nyaga spoke on behalf of the communication breakdown within the RSU and how going forward, they wish to change that by taking more time to communicate.

“At the end of the day, if we have an issue with each other politically, we need to have converations. This might be our first time being right in the middle of the public eye, but we need to be mature about how we’re going about this,” Nyaga said.

The statement ends by inviting students to the RSU board meeting on July 19.


  1. The RSU runs dozens of equity campaigns that most of the RSU leadership never care for or pay attention to. Now that there’s controversy why are so many of them so quick to distance themselves from it? Cowardice

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