By Tova Friedman
The graduate council currently has just four board positions on the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), but the team wants to give graduate students the same amount of support as other universities across Toronto—who already have their own graduate unions—making the addition of a separate grad union top priority for this year.
Amber Grant, acclaimed Deputy Chairperson of Education for graduate students on the RSU, said creating Ryerson’s own graduate student union independent from the RSU is the best way to meet the needs of Ryerson graduate students. She added that there will be a referendum to establish the union in Fall 2018.
“We’ve heard several graduates complain about how long it takes to get a response on travel grant applications, about the lack of study and/or office space on campus, and we’ve heard many international students complain about tuition rates,” she said. “We believe that creating a Graduate Student Union can help better address these concerns and build stronger community on campus.”
Although she said graduate students feel underrepresented by the RSU, Grant said having graduate representatives on the RSU board is an important part of this project.
“Graduate representatives are a part of the RSU board since decisions made by the RSU influence and impact students,” she said. “Without having the graduate students on the RSU, not only would it be undemocratic, it would also be less likely that graduate student issues would be discussed or concerned.”
The team has been planning on assembling the union as soon as possible.
“Our main focus for the year is to ensure the RSU prioritizes and supports the referendum of a Graduate Students Union,” she said. “For us, this looks like ensuring that there is adequate funding in the operation budget to support the campaign and working to engage graduate students early on in the fall semester.”
RSU president, Susanne Nyaga, said graduate representatives should collaborate with other graduate students and executives for this project. According to her, this could be done through constant feedback and lots of ongoing communication.
“I think the graduate rep can consult graduate students when it comes creating the budget as well as specific services they would like to see,” she said. “The graduate student representatives can also bring a graduate perspective to the table when services are being revised but also submit motions to change the practice of the RSU to be more representative.”